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Health
Wildfires

Health advisory issued as wildfire smoke settles over NWT


Stale air brought a fresh public health advisory on Monday evening as wildfire smoke gathered above the communities of the NWT's North and South Slave.

The territory's Department of Health and Social Services issued a wildfire smoke exposure advisory for the communities of Yellowknife, Hay River, Kakisa, Enterprise, Fort Providence, Behchokǫ̀, Dettah, and Fort Resolution.

"Communities of the Great Slave region are experiencing environmental smoke exposure from wildfires in Alberta. The amount of smoke may change due to weather conditions," the advisory read.

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The department recommended staying inside with windows and doors closed to minimize exposure, and urged anyone with symptoms like wheezing, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath to go to their local health centre.

Sports fixtures, including Yellowknife's recreational outdoor soccer league, were cancelled on Monday owing to the poor conditions.

Hay River was the first community to receive an air quality advisory from Environment and Climate Change Canada early on Monday, followed by the Yellowknife area later in the day.

Yellowknife also experienced a brief power outage shortly before 9pm on Monday. The cause was not immediately clear.

Wind spent the day pushing smoke north from northern Alberta fires near Steen River and, to a lesser extent, the High Level wildfire.

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Firesmoke.ca – the smoke forecasting service rapidly becoming that one website your annoying friend wants the world to know they found first – suggested a fresh pulse of acrid air would embrace the Yellowknife region in the early hours of Tuesday, with some respite in the intervening hours.

NWT season average to date

The Steen River wildfire led to the closure of the highway connecting the NWT and Alberta for several days in May, and forced a handful of residents near the rural community of Indian Cabins to evacuate north on Monday.

The Alberta government stated: "Highway and wildfire conditions are being closely monitored, and the highway may be closed without warning if conditions change or safe travel is no longer possible."

In the NWT, residents near Wekweètì may also see or smell smoke from a 90-hectare fire some 40 km from the community.

"There is currently limited action on the fire," the NWT government stated on its wildfire update page, giving the cause of the fire as lightning.

In a separate wildfire update call with reporters on Monday, the territorial government said this summer's NWT wildfire season has been about average, or slightly below average, to date.

That follows a 2018 wildfire season that barely left a mark on the territory, entering the books as one of the quietest in years.

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