A rainbow over evacuation flights at Yellowknife's airport in August 2023. Photo: Aaron Black
In a change of approach, the NWT government now says some re-entry flights back to Yellowknife will carry on past Sunday.
A spokesperson told Cabin Radio the last flights for evacuees in Calgary, Edmonton and Leduc will still leave on Sunday, but evacuees who remain in other Alberta communities “will be receiving information about their flights.”
Flights for people in those other communities will extend “beyond today,” the spokesperson confirmed on Sunday afternoon.
Any Yellowknife-area evacuee in Calgary, Edmonton or Leduc hotel accommodation provided via an evacuation centre must check out on Sunday, the GNWT earlier stated on its public safety website.
Evacuees in Calgary were told to head to the Radisson Hotel on 36 St NE before 4pm to be taken to the airport and given a flight home. Those in Edmonton or Leduc who had not yet received a call from the GNWT about a flight home, were told to send an email for more information.
A precise schedule for evacuees in remaining Alberta communities was not available. One evacuee told Cabin Radio they had received a phone call telling them to expect a flight back to Yellowknife on Tuesday.
Evacuees in Fort McMurray, Fox Creek, Grande Prairie, Lac La Biche, Lloydminster, Red Deer, Valleyview and Whitecourt were told by the GNWT: “If you have pre-registered for a re-entry flight and are located in any of the evacuee host communities listed below, please wait for your flight confirmation. Do not proceed to Edmonton or Calgary.”
Pre-registration for flights closed on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, for those driving back to Yellowknife, Highway 1 was open with no reports of obstructions or delays on Sunday.
As of 2:30pm, there had been no repeat of Saturday’s smoke-related highway closure and there were no reports of poor visibility or other incidents.
Highway 7 leading from Fort Liard to BC is also open.
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Drivers have been warned over their speed by NWT Fire, which said on Saturday it was considering pulling its firefighters off Highway 1 for their own safety.
The gantry cameras at the north end of the Deh Cho Bridge recorded 1,048 northbound vehicles on Friday and 1,097 on Saturday, the Department of Infrastructure said on Sunday morning, up from 821 on Thursday and 676 on Wednesday. Note that those figures include supply trucks, government vehicles and traffic heading for Fort Providence, Whatì and Behchokǫ̀.
Overall, some 4,600 vehicles have passed the cameras heading north since Monday. The GNWT has said 5,000 to 7,000 passed the same cameras heading south during the city’s evacuation last month.