A firefighter assesses trees burned by the Wood Buffalo Complex wildfire on Sept 26, 2023. Parks Canada/Facebook
The three parties managing the Wood Buffalo wildfire complex are urging residents to stay out of areas closed because of the active fire.
A Wednesday update from Alberta Wildfire, the NWT government and Parks Canada states there have been “several closure violations.” While residents were allowed to return to Fort Smith last month following a 37-day evacuation order, officials said the wildfire still poses a risk in some areas.
“We would like to remind the public that closures remain in place for your safety and should be respected,” the update states. “Although temperatures have dropped and it feels cooler, the fire continues to burn hot, and the landscape remains extremely dry.”
The update said smouldering areas of ground fire, which crews are working to extinguish, continue to be a significant risk. Officials asked land users to exercise extreme caution in forested areas and avoid recently burned areas.
Closures will remain – and the wildfire will remain classified as “being held” – until significant snowfall or rain occurs, the update read.
As of Wednesday morning, the Salt River and Salt Plains day use areas, Pine Lake campground, Kettle Point group camp and all trails within Wood Buffalo National Park were closed. Hay Camp Road, Parsons Lake Road, Kettle Point Road, Foxholes Road and Connie’s Road are also closed.
Thebacha Road is closed to the general public while the boat launch is accessible for users only.
There is a no-stopping area on Pine Lake Road from the Salt River bridge to the junction with Parsons Lake Road.
The Wood Buffalo complex was last estimated to have burned 504,881 hectares. There are currently 96 people working on it, with heavy equipment and helicopters protecting cabins west of the Slave River.