A file photo of fireworks. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Hay River police are seeking more information after reports of people letting off fireworks in the town during a region-wide ban.
Using fireworks is on a list of activities barred by a comprehensive fire ban that’s in place across much of the NWT, with the intent of preventing more human-caused forest fires.
Hundreds of fires – most naturally caused, but some sparked by people – have combined to create the territory’s worst-ever fire season. Hay River residents only just returned home after a month-long evacuation triggered by fires that have burned a vast stretch of land around the town.
In a news release issued late on Tuesday, RCMP said multiple calls had come in on Sunday “reporting fireworks being detonated in the wooded area near the school district of Woodland Drive in Hay River.”
“Officers attended the area and found evidence of fireworks being set off. However, the culprits were not located,” the news release stated.
“This offence is particularly egregious given the ongoing wildfire threat and recent evacuation of the community. No suspects have been identified as of yet and police are seeking any information the public may have on this matter.”
Police in multiple NWT communities have spent time this summer tracking down people reportedly letting off fireworks in defiance of bans. The fear is sparks from the fireworks could set off a forest fire that, with parts of the territory in extreme drought, could soon rage out of control with so much dry, wooden fuel around.
In August, Fort Smith RCMP charged two people accused of letting off fireworks with violating the Forest Protection Act, little-known legislation that gives the GNWT the power it is currently using to declare whole areas of the territory off-limits for nearly any kind of fire – or activities that might start fires.