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As it happened: Yellowknife’s voyage home as evacuation order ends

The lineup of vehicles at a checkpoint outside Yellowknife just before 11am on September 6, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
The lineup of vehicles at a checkpoint outside Yellowknife just before 11am on September 6, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

Thousands of Yellowknifers made the trip home on Wednesday by road and air.

Airlift flights were taking place from Calgary, commercial flights at Yellowknife Airport resumed and a checkpoint on the highway outside the city lifted at 11am, when the three-week-long evacuation order ended.

A power outage caused by a transport truck in Fort Providence, which disrupted fuel sales for a few hours on Tuesday, had been resolved.

Fire crews continued to work on forest fires outside Hay River and Fort Smith, whose residents had no timeline for their own return after more than three weeks displaced.

On this page, we brought you updates throughout the day on travel conditions and the fight against the NWT’s wildfires.



Read our quick summary of wildfire threat to get the latest on the fires in less than a minute of reading. And remember to bookmark our homepage for all of our coverage in one place.

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Updates appeared below, latest first. All times are MT. Live coverage has concluded



Live text reporters: Ollie Williams in Yellowknife and Sarah Pruys in Calgary

18:20 – We’re concluding live coverage for the night. We’ll be back in the morning with travel updates and the latest on NWT wildfires throughout Thursday.

Plus our audio live stream will return with our morning show, Mornings at the Cabin, on the air from 7am. That means you can listen to great music and get important updates just by listening via the Cabin Radio app or on our website. Text updates will continue, too!

Safe travels if you’re still on the road or in the air. If you get to go home to your own bed tonight – enjoy.

18:16 – More airlift flights are arriving in Yellowknife and there are still two more scheduled flights due in tonight: an Air Canada flight from Edmonton just before 10pm and another from Vancouver just after midnight.

18:08 – “So far, it’s been going well,” Yellowknife’s mayor tells the CBC’s evening TV news show for the NWT. “For me, it feels like it’s busy. There are other vehicles, there are people out walking. For the first time in weeks, I saw kids at the park.”

17:56 – A little while ago I published a quick video update from downtown Yellowknife, just so you can see it’s still there. There was a gatecrasher in the live video and everything. Have a look.

17:21 – What’s keeping Highway 7 closed for so long? Here’s an update.



17:13 – The GNWT says it’s trying to make all of the phone number it’s giving out consistent. That means the one number to call now for re-entry flight information is 1-888-383-4830. (Previously, confirmations sent to people gave them 1-888-383-8410 to call. The numbers apparently end up in the same place, but you’re being encouraged to use the one ending 4830.)

17:04 – I bring you the following update from the City of Yellowknife:

“Please be advised that traffic lights at the Woolgar Avenue/Kam Lake Road and Old Airport Road/Borden North intersections are flashing due to repairs. Please obey the flashing lights.”

I would like a T-shirt with PLEASE OBEY THE FLASHING LIGHTS on it.

17:02 – I’m back in the Cabin Radio studios in Yellowknife but my fingers defaulted to writing “Ollie Williams in Fort Simpson” at the top just then. It has become a habit. Weird.

16:58 – Handing the live back over to Ollie to take you into the evening. Safe travels everyone!

16:49 – Diana, who was scheduled to be on the 2pm evacuation flight leaving Calgary, says the plane is just boarding now, about three hours behind schedule.

16:39 – NWT Fire is reminding people that recently burned areas along the highway are extremely dangerous after firefighters found children playing in the burned forest today.



“There are hot ash pits along the highway, dangerous trees with damaged root systems which could fall, along with continued active fire in some areas,” warned the wildfire agency, saying people putting themselves in dangerous situations may pull emergency responders away from other important work.

16:28 – Why isn’t Highway 7 opening back up?

It’s been days, now, so we reached out to the Department of Infrastructure, which referred us to the BC Wildfire Service.

The Prince George Fire Centre told us the issue is the Patry Creek wildfire (labelled fire G91739), which is burning out of control across a stretch of Highway 77, the road down from the NWT border toward Fort Nelson.

“With the high winds we received over the long weekend, the fire activity was quite aggressive. Within 48 hours, the wildfire grew 40 km,” a spokesperson for the Prince George Fire Centre told us by email. “The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has issued an evacuation order for the vicinity of G91739, which includes part of the highway.”

The fire centre says the full extent of any damage to infrastructure in the area isn’t clear, as the fire service hasn’t had the resources to do a full assessment yet. However, downed trees are reported across Highway 77 as well as “danger trees,” in other words standing dead or dying trees within striking distance of the highway. The fire itself still poses a threat, as does smoke, the agency stated.

Meanwhile, the Fort Nelson zone has 49 active wildfires in total, 28 of them still out of control, and only so many fire crews assigned to the area. “With the limited resources we currently have, we prioritize our fire crews on structure protection and community protection,” we were told.

There’s no obvious timeline yet for the highway to reopen from BC to Fort Liard and beyond.



16:22 – The Yellowknife Airport has wheelchairs, pet carriers, and volunteers drivers and taxi drivers to help people and their pets on the final leg home. YKDFN has also set up a welcome desk. All photos: Emily Blake

15:26 – We’ve got a message from Ken giving everyone a heads up that the hotel in Grimshaw is a few hours late getting rooms ready for tonight, due to a full house last night.

15:17 – Traffic looks a little different at the airport with the main driveway on Highway 3 blocked off. There’s lots of signage directed those picking up returning residents on where to go. Parking is currently free.

Welcome back sign at the airport on September 6, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Welcome back sign at the airport on September 6, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

15:09 – The GNWT is now telling evacuees in Calgary to pre-register for flights home by 8pm today. “If you do not pre-register today, we cannot guarantee you will be booked on a flight before your hotel accommodations end,” the GNWT stated on Facebook. The end date for that accommodation is currently September 8.

14:59 – From Emily: The number-one thing on most residents’ minds? A good night’s sleep in their own beds. We spoke with some of the people pouring back into Yellowknife.

14:58 – In its 2pm update, NWT Fire said Hay River is in heavy drought, causing the fire to burn deep in the ground, making flare-ups possible if the right steps aren’t taken to secure the fire.

The drought code for the area is currently 700 – and anything over 400 is extreme. 

14:51 – There are six commercial flights arriving in Yellowknife today from Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary, says the Department of Infrastructure (well, one of the Vancouver flights arrives after midnight). Two of these flights are then departing for the south, heading to Vancouver and Calgary. 



14:33 – The GNWT is advising tourists to be aware of the risks of visiting the NWT right now, given multiple communities are under evacuation orders or alerts and the territory as a whole is still under a state of emergency.

14:04 – Parks Canada says milder weather has been helping with firefighting efforts but temperatures into next week into above-seasonal again. “It is very very dry.”

Helicopters continued helping suppression efforts yesterday while ground crews extinguished hot spots and secured perimeters around values at risk. Heat sensing scans were completed overnight to help crews find and action hot spots.

Parks Canada says before people can return home to Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald, the northeastern perimeter of the fire must be free of hot spots and extinguished far enough in that the fire will not spread outside the current boundary. It says structure protection around communities will also need to be moved.

“We are getting closer each day, but we’re not there yet,” the update from Parks Canada states.

Read more in our latest wildfire update.

14:01 – An aircraft landed at Yellowknife Airport a little over an hour ago with an engine issue that required inspection on the tarmac before it made it to the gate. Airport officials are citing that incident – which ended safely – as an example of why the airport had to be back to a certain operational standard, to account for anything untoward like that occurring.

13:59 – Good afternoon! I had 250 emails after a few days off, but Emily and Ollie had already gotten to most of them so the biggest thank-you to them (and thank you to Ollie for watering my garden, if it’s still alive).



13:56 – This is Ollie switching now to the voice of Sarah Pruys in Calgary, who’s going to take you through the afternoon while I enjoy the fact my house is still standing, as is Yellowknife. Here’s hoping the same can be said for as many people as possible across the NWT when this whole thing is over.

Looking forward to being back in the live-text chair as we continue to help people get home and follow the situation in Hay River and Fort Smith. Sarah, over to you. Yes, I will go water your plants.

13:48 – From Jackie: “Just passed Enterprise, really sad to go by but the roads are clear of smoke and traffic is very light.”

13:45 – There is gonna be an emotional moment in a second here. We’re a block away from my house. (The fruit flies are frantically tidying, I’m sure.)

13:43 – From Emily: The Town of Hay River says while good progress has been made, there is still a lot of work left to reduce the risk to the town. it says drying conditions have led to flare-ups and work on re-entry plans for Hay River and other South Slave communities continues.

The town says tightlining to control the fire continues while structural protection remains in place. Yesterday, fire control work focused around the sewer lagoon and 553 area to the beach.

The town says the finger of the fire south of Kátł’odeeche First Nation has almost been controlled with blacklining and backlining work will begin on the east side of the reserve.

As residents return by road to Yellowknife, the town says security is in place to control access to Enterprise and there is an RCMP checkstop at the entrance from Highway 1 toward Hay River. The town says Hay River Ambulance and Rescue are also stationed in Enterprise to support re-entry.



13:41 – Back to Garth at the 60th Parallel Territorial Park: “Nice, steady flow of traffic going through, lots of humans and dogs taking a break then off they go. Expect a police presence on both sides of the border. Cool and overcast here.”

13:39 – The city is still here, and that’s really nice after all this.

Thanks, everyone who protected it.

Change of status: Now reporting from Yellowknife!

13:37 – We’re arriving in Yellowknife. I mean, yeah, parts do look different with some of the trees gone, but you’re not going to drive in and start clinging, weeping, to the lone remaining jackpine for a thousand kilometres. I think people are going to be mostly OK with this (at least, the parts coming in from the highway).

The other way of looking at it is: what, exactly, are you going to do if you disagree with these fire breaks?

13:34 – From Kate: “Still travelling the divided portion of Highway 43 (aka “Moose Row”) along with a cavalcade of other polar bear plates. It’s getting hazier (smoky) along the way but clear visibility, dry highway until we got some rain 65 km south of Valleyview just now. No critters. Traffic’s moving at a nicely spaced (safe) clip.”

13:32 – From Jeremy: “Conditions on the Mackenzie Highway between Paddle Prairie and High Level are smoky, with reduced visibility. Advise caution on the road.”



13:28 – We’ve heard from more than one person frustrated by the wait to get your flight details from the GNWT re-entry flight system. Here’s what one evacuee just wrote to us:

“No one is 100-percent sure their registration went through or where in line they are. Some people have packed up and left while others are waiting for a call or text, phoning numbers, getting busy signals or voice mails.

“The system sucks and is stressing people out.”

13:23 – I’m aware there are quite a few people in urgent need of some clarity about what’s happening to Highway 7 at the BC border. That highway has now been closed for days but there hasn’t been a particularly detailed update (that I’ve seen) about the situation on the ground there. I’m hoping to hear more soon.

13:20 – From Parks Canada on the Wood Buffalo complex of fires threatening Fort Smith:

“The drought code remains over 1,100. The highest recorded drought code for this area was approximately 840. In August, the area around Fort Smith usually receives an average of around 64 mm of precipitation – this year the area received 5 mm in total. That is 7.9 percent of the average monthly precipitation for August.

“Helicopters continued yesterday to support suppression efforts and bucket pockets of higher activity throughout the day, working in close communication with firefighters on the ground. In communities, structure protection specialists tested and maintained high-volume lines and sprinkler systems in communities. They also continued to assist with extinguishing hot spots and securing perimeters around values near the fire.

“Heat-sensing scans were done overnight at a high-level and low-level. These scans help fire crews find and action hot spots by associating each heat spot with a GPS coordinate. Firefighters use this information to zone in on the spots and take a “seek and destroy” approach, extinguishing them one by one.



“Along the main northeastern edge of the fire closest to Fort Smith, crews continue to work east off Highway 5 and west off Pine Lake Road – to meet in the middle, extinguishing hot spots along the way. Firefighters have been reporting hot spots in this area are sometimes 2-3 feet deep. Putting out spots this deep requires a lot of effort, using different tools, equipment, bucket support from helicopters and lots of water.”

13:09 – Just a touch more smoke as you get within 60 km of Yellowknife.

12:57 – At last, courtesy of Dehcho dust, we have a branded vehicle.

"Cabin Radio" appears on the side of a truck after a drive through the Dehcho in summer. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

12:55 – From the Department of Finance if you got the wrong travel payment (eg $400 instead of $750), which a few people have reported:

People who have been paid the wrong sum are asked to send an email to with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Application ID (if known this will speed up the process; would have been issued when residents completed their applications)
  • Amount received
  • Community they evacuated to

“The GNWT will process these emails as they are received and make arrangements to transmit the remaining $350 as soon as possible,” the department stated.

12:28 – The city just released another “Yellowknife is going to look a little different” plea, this time a video message from the mayor. I think they think you think it’s all a conspiracy to clear land for housing.

(It isn’t.)



That video also contains the usual plea for patience with everybody once you’re back. No going into the Co-op and demanding 15 rotisserie chickens. That kind of thing.

12:23 – Highways update: Nothing to report except the ongoing BC border closure.

Meanwhile, there’s a re-entry flight from Calgary just touching down in Yellowknife.

And here to the west of the city on Highway 3, a quick dog walk while the other half does radio things in the wilderness.

12:20 – The road between Fort Providence and Yellowknife today has so far been as untroubled a drive as I can remember.

This from a man who once had to stop in the middle of Highway 3 with hazard lights on mid-blizzard having lost all concept of what was road and what was ditch.

12:11 – We have passed the area where the checkpoint previously was. Nothing left of it. No lineup, clear highway. Sunny conditions, no smoke to speak of.

12:09 – How’s your trip going today? Are you driving? Did you fly? Flight coming up? Let me know, we want to share as many accounts as we can from people so we can help others waiting to travel.



12:06 – This is a really useful update from one reader who was in touch with their insurance company. I know there has been a lot of worry about what the evacuation order ending means for the insurance benefits people have been claiming.

This is from one insurance company’s response to an NWT resident:

“Given your situation I am able to confirm that I will only cover for expenses until September 10. Beyond September 10 no further Additional Living Expenses will be covered for Mass Evacuation.”

The important part there is that coverage was continued to September 10, despite the insurance company being told clearly that the evacuation order was ending on September 6. (I have had sight of the whole email thread.)

If you haven’t yet spoken with your insurer and are worried about this, it’s well worth having a phone call or email and ironing out when your benefits end. In many cases, it may not be as simple as you being cut off the moment the order lifts.

12:03 – We are past Behchokǫ̀. There is still minimal smoke. It’s very strange to see all of the burn areas for the first time. (Technically the second time, but the first time was evacuation day and not only was there a ton of smoke, I was also not doing well at taking in the scenery that day.)

11:55 – This was the lineup:

The lineup of vehicles at a checkpoint outside Yellowknife just before 11am on September 6, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
The lineup of vehicles at a checkpoint outside Yellowknife just before 11am on September 6, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
A lineup of vehicles at a checkpoint outside Yellowknife. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Vehicles at the checkpoint. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

11:51 – Just before 11am when the checkpoint lifted, our reporter Emily Blake estimated around 40 vehicles were in the line. I’m approaching that checkpoint shortly – I’m anticipating there won’t be a line or much to see.



Emily just got to Fred Henne park in Yellowknife. She tells me: “Road is clear, good weather. A few spots of smoke and places where drivers need to slow down for workers. Saw a couple of helicopters dropping buckets. One car got pulled over by police, so maybe good to remind folks to watch their speed.”

11:48 – We’re just passing North Arm Park on the drive back to Yellowknife. (Yes, I may be the first person to live-text this drive. It’s quite the honour.)

Meanwhile, Cathy sends these images from Yellowknife Airport of people waiting to help others get home once they land.

Cars wait to collect passengers at Yellowknife Airport on September 6, 2023. Photo: Cathy Downes
Cars wait to collect passengers at Yellowknife Airport on September 6, 2023. Photo: Cathy Downes
Vehicles line up to collect re-entry flight passengers in Yellowknife. Photo: Cathy Downes
Vehicles line up to collect re-entry flight passengers in Yellowknife. Photo: Cathy Downes

11:42 – Not everyone is heading all the way back to Yellowknife today, even if they could.

Here’s one point of view from someone who asked that I withhold their identity:

“We are leaving our friends’ house today in south Calgary and will stay two nights in Fox Creek at a hotel, then Friday night at a hotel in High Level. Then to Yellowknife on Saturday.

“We are doing this to avoid too-long days and to try to avoid the volume of cars on the road in the first three days. Most importantly, we are thinking that health services may be a little more robust on Saturday than they are today.

“We are questioning the governments’ decision to call us all back without healthcare services being close to acceptable levels. Our essential healthcare workers should have been given more time to safely bring their families home and get settled before the rest of us arrive. The whole process seems rushed.”



11:35 – More on Yellowknife’s evacuation order being formally downgraded to an alert this morning.

(Yes, this means you have to be “ready to leave at short notice” once you’re home. I know, you’re thrilled.)

11:30 – From Cathy at Yellowknife Airport: “Huge turnout of volunteers to drive folks home and so far seems to be very well organized.”

11:25 – We just pulled over next to a really cute Tłı̨chǫ Government “welcome home” sign and a steady stream of vehicles rolled past. Sunny conditions, minimal smoke south of Behchokǫ̀.

A Tłı̨chǫ Government sign reads "welcome home." Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
A Tłı̨chǫ Government sign reads “welcome home.” Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

11:14 – Flight tracking suggests a Canadian North charter left Calgary for Yellowknife about half an hour ago.

11:10 – I can tell you that WS 221, a regularly scheduled WestJet flight from Calgary, touched down at Yellowknife Airport moments ago.

11:07 – The first airlift flight from Calgary back to Yellowknife was due on the ground around about now.

11:06 – That also means the evacuation order has ended. Yellowknife and the surrounding area are now under an evacuation alert instead.



11:04 – The checkpoint has gone, I am told!

10:58 – Just getting a hint of smoke in the vehicle midway through the Providence-Behchokǫ̀ leg.

10:54 – Heading past Manning between Peace River and High Level? Free coffee and snacks in the town office.

10:52 – From Scott: “Just hit High Level and the traffic has been minimal. It’s raining here so the roads are slippery, and there has been some smoke for the last hour, but besides that, no issues. There were no line-ups at the Esso for gas at 10:45am.” 

10:47 – We are now 210 km away from Yellowknife and counting down…

10:45 – Some Cabin Radio reading material for a flight or drive home:

  • How dogs left in Fort Smith are getting walked and fed, by Aastha Sethi
  • How a fire consumed Enterprise and what happens next, by Emily Blake
  • The astonishing tale of how Yellowknifers kept essential workers fed, by Chloe Williams
  • A Cabin Radio reporter’s wildfire and evacuee mental health journey, by Megan Miskiman

10:40 – What’s happening with garbage pickup and the dump when you get back? Answers here. And go read our Q&A for more questions like this.

10:36 – The view from the vehicle just south of Chan Lake Territorial Park:



Highway 3 on September 6, 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

I know. It’s just a highway. But maybe even the sight of the thing helps. Conditions are now dry with the occasional lingering chicken. No smoke worth talking about.

10:33 – The Town of Hay River says work is continuing on its own re-entry plan.

In this morning’s update from the town:

“A lot of traffic will be on NWT highways as the Yellowknife citizens return home today. Security is in place to control access to Enterprise and an RCMP supported checkstop is at the entrance from Highway 1 toward Hay River.

“Cats [presumably the heavy equipment variety] continue along the fire lines, tightlining to control the fire. Specific focus on 553 to the beach and around the sewer lagoon for fire control work occurred yesterday as well. The finger south of KFN has almost been controlled with blacklining and work will begin on the east side of KFN for blacklining. While good progress was made, there is still a large amount of work left to complete to reduce the risk to Hay River. More flare-ups have been occurring with the drying conditions.

“Structural protection systems continued to be checked and operated. Crews continue to deal with hotspots including in Enterprise. Hay River Ambulance and Rescue are stationed at Enterprise to support the Yellowknife re-entry.”

10:29 – From Kate on the Yellowhead Trail heading out of Edmonton: “Light traffic but lots of NWT plates heading for the Highway 43 turnoff to go north.”

Godspeed, all!



10:27 – WestJet is reporting “delays network-wide” because of an outage affecting a “booking partner” named Sabre. Apparently it’s affecting multiple airlines.

“We recognize that it is causing some inconvenience for our guests travelling today,” the airline stated on Twitter, or X, or whatever.

If this is affecting your journey home, let me know. So far, I don’t think this affects any of the evac flights (which commercial airlines are helping to run), but I’ll update you if I learn otherwise.

10:25 – Fort Smith just issued a broad-brushstrokes overview of what it’ll take to get everyone back home.

10:24 – We are listening to Cabin Radio’s evacuation playlist as we head north up Highway 3. The other half just made me skip Bananaphone by Raffi. I know, a messy separation follows. But now it’s Tina Turner’s version of Disco Inferno so it’s OK.

10:22 – Highways update: You are all clear Alberta to Yellowknife, no reported issues. Highway 7 remains closed at the BC border. Number of bison on our drive so far today: zero. Number of bears on the Dehcho leg of Highway 1 yesterday: seven (four cubs!).

10:20 – Updates on Hay River and Fort Smith will appear as I get them. Again, I know today is going to be almost unbearably Yellowknife-heavy for residents who don’t get to come home yet. We’ll do what we can to balance that.

For starters, this new article compares Fort Smith pre-wildfire to the town’s new post-wildfire landscape.



10:17 – Very quickly, a word on Elvis the evacuee dog:

“Myself and my family and pet dog Elvis were evacuated almost a month ago and now my dog is quite sick,” Savannah writes.

“It has been very difficult caring for him and now he needs to see the veterinarian and it is quite expensive. I have created a GoFundMe to help me pay for his vet fees.

“If you could share this on your page, I would be forever grateful.”

I think Savannah knows there are a whole lot of people needing help right now, but equally we all know how we’d feel in that same situation. Can I suggest that if you were going to donate to Cabin Radio today (and thank you so much to those who have!), you check out the GoFundMe for Elvis instead. Today, we’ll save dogs, not digital journalism.

10:10 – Last night at the campground in Fort Providence, I spoke with one or two people who had yet to receive their evacuee travel payments but most had. I have more emails this morning from people reporting their payments have now come through. I hope yours arrived (or arrives) in time to help.

10:09 – New from Northland Utilities:

“With people coming home soon to Yellowknife, please know that power remained on while you were away and your appliances did not experience extended power disruptions.



“Our Yellowknife office remains closed, but you can reach us at 867-873-4865 or”

10:07 – Aaron has a slightly different route home to most. He writes:

“We are leaving Haines Junction today, headed back to Yellowknife. Highway 77 in BC to the Liard Trail is still closed. Next update is tomorrow at 0800 MST. Planning to stay in Teslin and Liard Hot Springs. Depending on the highway, we’ll decide from there.

“Camping with my wife and I, and two cats. Should be a blast. Looking at four days.

“Fingers crossed Highway 77 reopens, not just for our trip, but as backup for fuel and groceries should the main route south become compromised again.”

Safe travels, guys!

10:00 – Conditions just north of Fort Providence: very light rain, no smoke. Overcast. We are in a group of maybe eight vehicles, quite well spaced apart, making normal highway progress.

9:58 – A couple of people have reported receiving evacuee travel payments today that weren’t what they were expecting, like $400 when they requested $750. The Department of Finance is getting back to me with an answer on what to do in that situation.



9:54 – In a tribute to the technology of today, it feels cool to update my location above to “on Highway 3 to Yellowknife.”

9:49 – Just north of Fort Providence. (Spot the deliberate mistake.)

A sign reads "Welcme Home" alongside the highway north of Fort Providence. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
A sign alongside the highway north of Fort Providence. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

9:46 – This is from Garth, running the 60th Parallel Territorial Park:

Areas for dogs at the 60th Parallel Territorial Park. Photo: Supplied
Areas for dogs at the 60th Parallel Territorial Park. Photo: Supplied

“The calm before the storm,” Garth writes.

If you’re heading that way, some things Garth would like you to know:

“The main washrooms at the 60th Parallel are not open as we don’t have the capacity to handle the volume of people coming through. Portable washrooms have been brought in and they are on the service road just north of the main building.

“We do have a great large area just past the 60th Parallel sign for your dogs to have a run and do their business, please use this area only for your dogs.

“Please also take your garbage with you, we have no way to dispose of it at this time and we have bears in the area. Thanks for understanding.”



9:43 – How’s YOUR journey going? Shoot me updates via email if you are flying or driving today and keep me posted as you go.

By the way, the CBC has just launched a live updates page of its own.

9:42 – Update number one from the road: the dog ate half a bag of Cheetos while I was checking out. How do I know it was the dog? Her snout is bright orange.

9:39 – OK, here goes. You’re now coming with me on a ride north of Fort Providence home to Yellowknife. Photos and updates as I go.

8:58 – Stand by, we’re loading up here in Fort Providence and then you’re going to come with me on a Starlink-assisted drive to the checkpoint. (Which I suspect may be gone by the time we get to it.)

8:56 – Once you get back to Yellowknife and are settled, the city is looking for volunteers to help drive people from the airport back to their homes.

8:55 – I’m told 491 vehicles passed through the Deh Cho Bridge camera gantry heading north on Tuesday. That’s 16 more than the previous day. Gives you a good sense of what traffic looked like for essential workers heading back.

That same figure tomorrow will be very handy for remaining travellers hoping to get a sense of how many people went through today.



8:53 – I’m working on an update regarding commercial flights in operation today, so you can get a sense – if you have a future flight booked – of how things are going.

8:51 – Information we got during that show: there are three airlift flights from Calgary leaving today, six currently expected tomorrow (a mix of Calgary and Edmonton) but that is still to be confirmed. In case there’s any confusion, you get two checked bags up to 50 lb each and a carry-on.

8:45 – Aaaaand back live texting. Worth a watch of that show if you have time, it recaps a lot of the information from below and last night.

8:01 – Now on the air!

7:52 – Yes, by the way, there is already a line at the checkpoint. Which was predictable. I would say don’t head up from Providence for a little while, if you’re inbound. Remember, it’s now an 11am checkpoint lift.

7:50 – Quick natter with CBC News Network done. Our morning show starts over here at 8am with a full update on conditions.

7:30 – Reminder if you’re just waking up and prepping to leave: the board is green from Alberta to Yellowknife, no reported issues. Highway 7 at the BC border is still closed.

7:27 – On Facebook, the communications medium of choice for all levels of government in the NWT (which is super problematic), Mayor of Yellowknife Rebecca Alty says the checkpoint will now lift at 11am today, citing a technicality around needing to ensure residents all arrive legally, including those coming by air.



7:23 – Here’s your Big River lineup:

Big River gas station on the morning of September 6, 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Big River gas station on the morning of September 6, 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Fair to say very few people left northern Alberta at 3am, perhaps wisely.

7:05 – OK stand by, relocating to Big River. CBC News Network at 7:40am then our own live show at 8am.

7:04 – Hello to Low, Lori and the “four fur babies.” They send this update:

“We’re on the highway, left High Level at 5:30am. It was raining and foggy until Meander River. We’re going through Steen River now – road is nice, a bit damp from the rain last night and overcast, but no smoke!”

6:52 – New from me: Efforts to protect Fort Smith from a nearby wildfire mean residents will come home to a changed landscape. Explore photos and satellite shots.

Pine Crescent and Primrose Lane, left, and the highway at the top of the picture. Photo: Town of Fort Smith
Pine Crescent and Primrose Lane, left, and the highway at the top of the picture. Photo: Town of Fort Smith

(We did a similar article for Yellowknife a week or two ago. This is obviously going to be a Yellowknife-heavy day of live texting but we’ll include all the information we can on Hay River and Fort Smith as the day goes on.)

6:31 – I’m going to be live on video from Big River at 8am, when I’ll give you the most comprehensive update I can on what to expect on the roads today. Any questions ahead of that, let me know. And tell me where you’re driving from today! (Or if you’re hanging back, let me know when you’re thinking you’ll eventually head home.)



6:15 – The GNWT advised us late last night, regarding airlift flights back home:

“The first re-entry flight confirmations have been sent to some residents departing Calgary to Yellowknife. Notifications were sent by text message and contain check-in information. Follow the instructions in the text message and proceed to the check-in location at the specified time. You will be transported to the airport.

“You will NOT be asked to reply to the message. You will not be asked for personal information, payment, or any other details. There are no links to click. Do not respond to the text message. If you have questions about your flight confirmation, call 1-888-383-8410.”

The GNWT previously said notifications would be sent at least 24 hours before flights took off. So far, I have one report of someone receiving a notification only about 15 hours before his flight and 12 hours before he had to be at a different hotel for transit to the airport. I’d be interested to hear others’ experiences of that system.

6:14 – Don’t forget our Q&A has lots of answers for common questions from people heading home. If you’re on an airlift plane, expect someone to hop on your aircraft in Yellowknife to explain what’s available once you disembark – if all goes to plan, it sounds like there’ll be various services from the city and YKDFN to get you home safely.

5:52 – The Department of Infrastructure says the Yellowknife Airport parking lot’s barrier will stay open until Monday, September 11 at 8am – and that might change if more evacuation flights are scheduled. So getting your car out of the lot up to that point would appear to be free.

5:48 – And you know what, let’s start the day with a note of encouragement for Air Canada. Candice writes:

“Air Canada was just really awesome. We had tickets booked on Aeroplan and they’ve just been cancelling and rebooking the Edmonton-YK portion for weeks now. Finally, on Wednesday it’s scheduled to actually leave, but now we need to stick around the south a few extra days as one of our family members has some medical stuff and should be closer to more accessible health services right now. They rebooked all four of our tickets for the family for several days from now, without change fees or penalties.”



I know people have a ton of poor experiences with airlines, but it’s heartening every now and again to hear something go right. Good luck to everyone heading for GNWT or commercial flights home today, let me know how your day goes.

5:46 – I did get a late message from Lianne after she got home last night. She wrote:

“The junction checkpoint went seamlessly. I was worried they were letting everyone and anyone through and that there would be a pileup. The checkpoint worker told us he had denied entry to 17 people so far on his shift!

“There was a lot of traffic after Peace River and so many people speeding.”

RCMP put out a statement yesterday emphasizing there are extra Alberta police vehicles on the south side of the border (and more police on the NWT side) so your odds of hitting a speed trap today are pretty good, just saying.

5:43 – If you are driving home from Alberta, the board is green. 511 Alberta and the NWT highway conditions map show you are good to go, and I have no overnight reports of disruption or poor conditions on the roads.

5:36 – Good morning from the Snowshoe Inn! We’re starting today’s live coverage super early, since I suspect some of you might be starting the day super early too.

I’ll have the latest on travel conditions coming up.



If you are heading home by road or by air today, please keep us posted. Email any personal travel updates that you’re happy to share.

For people flying home: Did you get a flight notification from the GNWT? How is the travel to the airport and the airport itself? How was the flight, did your bags and pets get on board OK? How is your commercial flight going, was it cancelled or delayed or did it leave on time? What’s the situation at Yellowknife Airport?

For people driving home: Where are you leaving from? Who’s with you? What’s your travel plan? How is gas availability along the way, or accommodation if you need it? How are the highway conditions – the weather, the smoke, the traffic? Any tips for drivers following along behind you?

For people getting home any other way: What the heck?