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Heavy equipment digs away vegetation at the edge of the Hay River fire to discourage forward growth (this is called tightlining). Photo: GNWT
Heavy equipment digs away vegetation at the edge of the Hay River fire to discourage forward growth (this is called tightlining). Photo: GNWT

As it happened: Hay River says re-entry plan coming soon


The massed return of thousands of Yellowknife residents is entering a second day, while wildfires continue to threaten the communities of Hay River and Fort Smith.

Both Hay River and Fort Smith say they are working on re-entry plans but it is too soon to recall residents, even as recent cooler weather helps the battle against vast nearby fires.

Many hundreds of Yellowknife residents returned to their city by road or air on Wednesday as an evacuation order lifted, but thousands more are still to complete their journeys.

In some cases, evacuees are still waiting for news of their GNWT-provided re-entry flight. Others are relying on commercial air services to operate as normal, while some are setting out on the long drive home from Alberta.



On this page, we’re bringing 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 text reporters: Sarah Pruys in Calgary and Emily Blake and Ollie Williams in Yellowknife.

19:10 – That’s a wrap on Thursday’s press conference. The next press conference is scheduled for Monday at 4pm.

19:07 – When people register for a repatriation flight, they should receive a confirmation text. If they want to confirm their flight, they can call (844) 259-1793.

19:04 – Around 500 vehicles crossed the Deh Cho Bridge on both Monday and Tuesday when essential workers were allowed to return to the city. However, this number of vehicles also includes commercial vehicles.

18:59 – “I’ve asked every single person I know to spread the message and tell their friends and tell their friends to to spread the message [to call to book a seat on a repatriation flight] because within that population … they are friends, and they do talk to each other and they do support each other,” says Premier Caroline Cochrane, in response to a question about how people who are housing insecure are being reached with information on coming home.

18:52 – Nearly 100 fires have been marked as “out” within the last few days. Westwick says this is a combination of a lag in updating NWT Fire’s online statistics as well as recent rain events helping extinguish some fires.

There are now 152 active fires and 132 extinguished fires in the NWT.



18:49 – “Riverwoods, Delancey … all those outlying neighbourhoods are in our planning and everything that we’re doing in the ways that we’re focusing our suppression work are designed to keep those places safe and avoid further losses,” says Mike Westwick, wildfire information officer on the Hay River fire fighting efforts. 

18:45 – The GNWT reminds that repatriation flights will not be scheduled from provinces that did not receive evacuees, such as Quebec and British Columbia.

18:36 – It’s unclear the number of housing insecure Yellowknife residents who were evacuated, given people were not asked about their housing status during the evacuation.

18:32 – Mayor Alty says the city doesn’t dictate when non-essential businesses will re-open. 

18:30 – “We’ve taken some steps to ensure that we have additional mental health supports available within Yellowknife,” says Kimberly Riles, CEO of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.

Riles says if people have children who need extra supports they should reach out to the child youth care counsellor program (which is closely tied to school programming) or NTHSSA, which will help connect parents to the resources their children need.

18:25 – The Town of High Level says the registration centre at its sports complex will close Friday at 5pm until Monday at 9am. Evacuees needing assistance when the centre is closed are asked to call (780) 841-1268.

18:24 – The military has not been extended, as Minister Thompson says they are “a last resort” and other jurisdictions are still sending other firefighters to help fight the fires.



18:21 – Accommodations for South Slave evacuees have been extended until September 22, says Boast.

18:20 – Jay Boast, Emergency Management Organization information officer, says 268 residents returned to Yellowknife on repatriation flights and 676 vehicles drove across the Deh Cho Bridge on Wednesday (this second number also includes commercial vehicles, however).

Numbers for Thursday are not yet available.

18:16 – Mayor Kandis Jameson says Hay River town council will consider return dates at a council meeting this upcoming Monday.

“Once the warm weather subsides we will have a good indication of when the risk for citizens will be reduced to an acceptable level,” she says.

18:14 – Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty says a review process looking at wildfire response will include asking the public for feedback “on what worked and what didn’t.”

18:11 – Chief Ernest Betsina, who was sworn in on Sunday, says “What a time to start.”

Betsina is the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s new Dettah chief.



He says they are working on making sure all members are accounted for and back in the community.

18:07 – Minister Shane Thompson says GNWT-scheduled repatriation flights will wrap up on Sunday, September 10.

If you haven’t signed up for a flight yet, the deadline is 8pm on Friday.

17:40 – Tonight’s GNWT press conference starts at 6pm. You can watch it here (and we’ll bring you the key updates via text on this page as well).

16:59 – Northwestel says technicians have fixed the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link, restoring telecommunications to Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic, and Fort McPherson.

A month ago, Northwestel said a wildfire was preventing technicians from inspecting the fibre line when services were first impacted.

16:48 – The BC wildfire service says it has no update on the fire burning across Highway 77 today. The road connecting BC to the Dehcho has now been closed for almost six full days. Yesterday, crews were understood to be clearing dead and dying trees from the highway and the near vicinity.

16:27 – Handing the live back over to Sarah in Calgary.



16:21 – Michele shared this photo driving north of Enterprise around 3pm today.

“Nothing exciting (a good thing), just showing how quiet and clear the drive has been!”

16:18 – Seeing some friends posting on social media that they’ve made it home to Yellowknife. It has been a real comfort throughout the evacuation seeing people share their journeys and confirm that they’re safe along the way.

16:15 – NWT Fire just released this map showing areas where crews will be working with heavy equipment to secure Hay River, K’átł’odeeche First Nation and the surrounding area.

16:07 – You can find the latest updates on wildfires of note in the NWT here.

15:55 – More from Ollie on the fire outside Hay River and the town’s re-entry planning: Hay River is releasing a plan on Friday but will wait to fix firm dates because the fire outside the town is set to be “highly active” this weekend.

15:41 – In it’s latest update on the Hay River/K’átł’odeeche First Nation/Kakisa/Enterprise fire: NWT Fire says after a thorough assessment of areas of Highway 1 impacted by the fire, it has confirmed five additional structures were lost. It suspects the losses occurred during the fire’s initial approach from near Kakisa to Enterprise and toward Hay River. Three more structures were also confirmed lost in the 6 Mile Creek area, which NWT Fire says occurred on August 25.

The wildfire agency says conditions this morning were tempered by an inversion, where hot and cool air meet and trap smoke and fog close to the ground, shading the fire from the sun. It says this inversion has since burned off and temperatures are expected to reach 20C today with brisk, gusty winds from the south.



Tomorrow the wildfire agency says it expects continued warming and winds from the southwest. The team is preparing for “what could be a highly active fire weekend.”

Helicopters continue to complete drops on hot areas of the fire and airtankers are on standby. Crews are also working to secure Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation and surrounding areas.

15:25 – From Ollie: Our returning to Yellowknife Q&A has been updated with facility opening dates and more information about when Canadian North’s services resume.

15:19 – Canadian North says it will resume full passenger and cargo services on routes to Yellowknife as of September 10.

15:07 – Handing this page back to Emily for the next while!

15:07 – Hay River crews are preparing for a “highly active fire weekend,” with near-record heat and unfavourable winds forecast. 

“It will be a test of our defences and progress towards securing the fire’s edge closest to town. There is potential for fire growth over this period,” said NWT Fire in a Thursday afternoon update.

14:53 – In Yellowknife, the library, visitor information centre, field house, multiplex, community arena, and city hall will be open for regular hours starting Tuesday, September 12.



The city’s transit system and YATS are scheduled to offer regular service – minus express routes – on Monday, September 11.

The pool needs to go undergo annual maintenance and will be closed for now, and is slated to open October 2.

Recreation programming is underway and more information programs and registration dates will be provided in the upcoming weeks. Refunds will be issued for people who enrolled in programs before the evacuation order.

14:29 – Yellowknife will also be streaming tonight’s GNWT press conference here. Reminder that it will start at 6pm, not 4pm.

14:28 – The City of Yellowknife is reminding people that there is still a fire ban on open-air burning fire pits until further notice. We don’t want any more fires, guys!

14:19 – “Well traffic has definitely picked up since earlier this morning at the 60th Parallel, more than yesterday I’d say, also seeing lots of equipment that was up helping out heading back South. That’s a good sign I’m thinkin’, 11° and sunny here, drive safe people,” says Garth at the NWT-Alberta border.

13:08 – From Ollie: A Q&A with Yellowknife’s mayor reflecting on the city’s evacuation and the planning surrounding it – and how a full review will be taking place.

13:01 – The GNWT wildfire press conference that was set for 4pm has been pushed back until 6pm tonight. Typically, the City of Yellowknife live streams these press conferences – if we hear that they plan to do this tonight, we’ll share the link. Otherwise, watch for text updates here.



12:57 – Kátł’odeeche First Nation also plans to release its re-entry plan by the end of day on Friday. Like Hay River, the First Nation is not confirming re-entry dates until after unfavourable weather conditions have passed this weekend.

12:10 – To fight the Fort Smith fire, heat-sensing scans are being conducted overnight to identify hot spots. During daylight, crews follow GPS coordinates to the hot spots to extinguish them one by one.

12:08 – It is very, very dry in Fort Smith. For reference, any drought code number above 400 is considered extreme.

“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,” wrote Wood Buffalo National Park in a Friday update at noon.

12:00 – Elizabeth says there was no line-up for gas or food at Big River Service Centre in Fort Providence just before noon today.

She adds, “The bugs were the hardest part of the trip so far.”

11:58 – It’s a little smoky about 20 km from High Level, says Brittany, adding the highway is steady but not busy.

11:57 – Yellowknife’s CIBC Run for Our Lives Mud Run has been cancelled. The run was scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 16.



“Based on the current circumstances, and safety being our top priority, it is not possible for our committee to physically put the course in order in that short period of time. We want to express our sincere gratitude to our dedicated sponsors and those who have already registered and sponsored, for their unwavering support,” said Patty Olexin-Lang, the executive director of the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation .

The foundation will be reaching out to sponsors, registered participants, and those who’ve sponsored participants, early next week to arrange refunds.

11:54 – On Friday, crews in Hay River plan to use a drone to locate hot spots, including fires in root systems. 

“There are two large fingers of the fire on the east side of the Hay River. The one to the south of KFN should be contained soon and work on the fire’s edge to the east of KFN will be started today.  Across the river from Delancey Estates is a hot spot which is being addressed,” the town said.

11:52 – Hi, it’s Sarah again. The Town of Hay River just said its re-entry plan will be released by the end of day on Friday – but re-entry dates won’t be confirmed until early next week as unfavourable weather conditions are still expected this coming weekend. 

“The weather from Saturday until Monday will be warm and dry which will elevate fire activity in the area,” says the town.

11:48 – Handing the live back to Sarah in Calgary.

11:46 – There will be a press conference tonight at 4pm on the wildfire situation and evacuations in the NWT.



11:45 – Latest story from Ollie: Yellowknife evacuees needing flights back home from Alberta have until 8pm on Friday to pre-register, the territorial government said on Thursday.

11:25 – A GoFundMe has been started for the owners of the Yellowknfe Book Cellar.

Here’s a story from Simona about how many businesses in the city have been struggling.

11:13 – Some photos of a fire break and sprinkler lines set up on the side of Highway 3 in Yellowknife. Essential workers did some pretty amazing work to protect the city over the past three weeks.

A fire break and hose system set up on the side of Highway 3 by Jackfish Lake in Yellowknife. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
A fire break and hose system set up on the side of Highway 3 by Jackfish Lake in Yellowknife. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

11:07 – Handing over to Emily for a little bit while I take the dogs on a walk. See you this afternoon!

11:03 – The City of Yellowknife says if you are in town and can volunteer to drive people home from the airport (you need a driver’s license and your own vehicle), text the volunteer coordinator at (403) 875-3317 or show up at the airport when flights are arriving. Here’s today’s schedule:

  • Between 11:15am and 11:55am – 2 flights coming in
  • 1pm – 1 flight
  • 2:30pm – 1 flight
  • 3:30pm – 2 flights
  • Between 4:30pm and 5:10pm – 2 flights
  • 6:15pm – 1 flight
  • 7:30pm – 1 flight
  • 9:40pm – 1 flight
  • 11: 30pm – 1 flight
  • 12:15am (midnight) – 1 flight

10:59 – Here’s our story on how Yellowknife evacuees needing flights back home from Alberta have until 8pm on Friday to pre-register, as per the territorial government’s Thursday morning update.

10:55 – Pre-registration for GNWT re-entry flights for Dettah, the Ingraham Trail, Ndilǫ and Yellowknife residents closes on Friday, September 8 at 8pm.



Anyone who has not pre-registered by then will be responsible for booking and paying for their own return to Yellowknife.

The territorial governments says flight confirmations and check-in information will be sent to residents as flights are booked. 

If you pre-registered and then found another way home, call 1 (888) 383-4830 to cancel your seat so someone else can have it. You can also call this number if you have any questions about your flight confirmation. 

10:29 – In the North Slave, crews will be working on targeting hot spots on the Yellowknife/Behchokǫ̀ fire that were identified via heat scans yesterday. They will also be mopping up and bucketing hotspots on the northwest and southeast sections of the Ingraham Trail fire.

10:24 – Yellowknife evacuees returning home the morning on September 7.

Photo: Emily Blake

10:12 – Avens long-term care residents are still in the Edmonton area, the agency said, and they are working on on repatriation logistics to bring them home.

Independent residents are starting to arrive back in the city and the Avens administration office will be open starting Monday.

10:10 – From Ollie: Yellowknife at 10am on Thursday is giving off 8am-on-Sunday vibes. Very few cars, although out by Aurora Ford there’s a steady stream of vehicles that look as though they’re rolling in off the highway. Given there wasn’t quite the huge surge of Yellowknifers yesterday that maybe some people expected, a tour of the grocery stores this morning suggests things are fairly well-stocked and quiet. The wind has picked up, sending notes of smoke into the city, and things certainly look hazy off to the west but it’s sunny downtown right now.

9:53 – A big thank you to Saskatchewan’s firefighters, who are heading home today.

Photo: GNWT

9:48 – We just got an inReach message from Kate (now that’s dedication to updating us) there are patches of fog and smoke from High Level to the NWT border. She says they’ve had the road to themselves so far.

9:35 – “Crews will be on Highway 3 between Behchokǫ̀, and Yellowknife and on Highway 1 between the border and Kakisa and between kilometre marker 40 and 60. Don’t make their jobs harder! Give them space, slow down, and drive safely!” says NWT Fire.

9:32 – Here’s Whisper, Laika, and Raven settling in for the long drive home.

9:30 – It was a foggy morning all around northern Alberta – this was sent to us by Brittany, who was walking her dog in Peace River this morning at 8:30am before heading north.

9:22 – A reminder as you’re driving north that there is also traffic heading south, so only pass northbound traffic when it’s safe (we’ve heard from southbound traffic they’ve had to pull onto the shoulder multiple times to avoid northbound vehicles passing into oncoming traffic).

9:16 – As of today, only the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Fort MacMurray and Lloydminster are able to accept new South Slave evacuees. 

Meanwhile, High Level, Peace River, St Albert, Grande Prairie, Leduc and Edmonton are now at capacity. If you are already registered there, you will continue to receive support there.

All evacuees should register at the reception centre nearest them, even if it’s marked as at capacity (this is helpful for your home town and host community to make sure they get the most relevant information to you and helps with re-entry planning). 

You can find more information on the reception centres in these communities here.

9:06 – Good morning from Calgary (yes I’m still here, we have a wedding in the city this weekend)!

I’m working on summarizing some information for South Slave evacuees in Alberta now that Yellowknife is returning home, so I’ll have that for you momentarily. 

8:59 – This is Ollie handing over the live updates to Sarah Pruys in Calgary. Thanks for your company this morning. Intermittent audio updates continue from me on the Cabin Radio live stream throughout the day, if good music helps the evacuation news go down.

8:51 – This is interesting, here’s the Deh Cho Bridge gantry figure for Wednesday: 676 vehicles heading north. (That includes local traffic and government highway ops vehicles.)

That’s only about 200 more than came through on each of Monday and Tuesday, which – to me – suggests many, many people are pacing their journeys home, given the gantry was registering thousands of vehicles in a day heading south during the evacuation.

8:48 – Hello again to Garth at 60th Parallel Teritorial Park, who sends this photo of current conditions:

“Good morning from the 60th Parallel,” Garth writes. “It was pretty quiet overnight and not a lot of movement through here yet this morning. I did go for a drive to Enterprise yesterday to check conditions and there are definitely hotspots and even a few trees still burning, but it’s a safe drive. 6C here now with fog so drive accordingly.”

8:36 – We just finished a lengthy conversation with the mayor of Yellowknife about the past three weeks, the decision to evacuate, and the presence or otherwise of a plan. A full transcript will follow later today. You can keep listening live here.

8:06 – Which territorial parks are open on the road home? Here’s a list:

These parks are closed:

  • Twin Falls Gorge
  • McNallie Creek
  • Lady Evelyn Falls

These parks are open:

  • 60th Parallel 
  • Slave River Lowlands Overview
  • Kakisa River
  • Dory Point
  • Fort Providence
  • Chan Lake
  • North Arm

Pump-out stations along the route: 

  • 60th Parallel 
  • Fort Providence 

8:01 – Remember, we’re back live on our regular audio stream. Come join me! Mayor Rebecca Alty is live in studio shortly.

7:48 – Hello to Farah, who writes: “We just left High Level and are making our way to Fort Providence before continuing on to Yellowknife. It’s really foggy in High Level. Visibility sucks but driving in daylight helps.”

Farah continues: “There’s a lot of cars behind us but so far haven’t seen any NWT licence plates in front of us or any police presence yet. However, lots of NWT plates in the Tim Hortons drive thru!”

7:40 – Can’t remember if we mentioned these yesterday but if we did, they deserve a second one: Janet Pacey at Signed has these shirts available for preorder.

“We’ve been working with artist Jordanna Rachinsky to turn her lovely ‘Love for NWT’ design into shirts. Our buddies at Wescan Embroidery & Printing in Edmonton are screen printing them right now and they should be at Signed late next week,” Janet writes.

7:28 – Here in Yellowknife, a bit of an overcast start looks like it’s gradually giving way to a blue sky. Not a lot of smoke in the air this morning, although it was fairly smoky last night.

Grocery update: when I stopped in at the Co-op yesterday afternoon, the place looked well-stocked even if you could tell they’re low on some items (bagels and frozen pizzas caught my eye on that front). It was not crazy busy by any means and the staff were super helpful. Remember, the advice is to bring three days of food home with you if you’re driving. We did that and then used the Co-op to just top up with one or two things we couldn’t reasonably keep fresh all the way back from Fort Simpson.

7:08 – I did say it looked foggy in northern Alberta today. Here’s a photo from Kate:

“Foggy start to the driving day at High Level. Traffic already starting to roll northward,” says Kate.

7:04 – Radio is so much more relaxed than a 40-minute live Zoom call, I’m just sayin’.



Merril sent this photo to us last night:

“Left Edmonton this morning. Now in Peace River. Far fewer NWT plates than we expected. Traffic briefly held up at the start of Highway 43 because of a house being moved,” Merril wrote.

6:58 – Going live in a moment on our audio live stream and the Cabin Radio app. Good morning!

6:56 – An update on the Yellowknife fires came in fairly late last night. In summary: mop-up and demobilization work on each of the fires around the city continues.

6:39 – What questions do you have for the Mayor of Yellowknife in our live interview at 8am?

6:35 – 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?



6:34 – Setting off by road from Alberta? I’m seeing no reports of any disruption on the highways between Alberta and Yellowknife. Traffic cameras in northern Alberta suggest it’s very foggy (possibly smoky) there right now, so be aware of that.

6:32 – Today’s updates come to you from Studio One at Cabin Radio. Our regular morning show returns today! No more video show, we’re back on the main Cabin Radio audio live stream. Get the Cabin Radio app – Android and iPhone versions are available – or tune in online.

I’ll be on the air from 7am with live updates (and excellent music). Mayor Rebecca Alty is in the studio at 8am.

6:28 – Good morning from Yellowknife. Let’s get you home and let’s put some fires out.