NWT’s largest wildfire develops east of Tsiigehtchic

While rain eased wildfire concerns in southern regions of the NWT, the territory’s largest fire of the season to date is now growing east of Tsiigehtchic in the Mackenzie Delta.

The fire is 90 km east of the community, meaning Tsiigehtchic is not in danger, but has grown to 7,236 hectares – almost twice the size of the Awry Lake wildfire near Yellowknife – in the three days since it was caused by a lightning strike.

“Strong easterly winds are pushing the fire towards the west,” the territory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources warned on Saturday.


“Heavy smoke from this fire is expected in Tsiigehtchic and Fort McPherson over the next 24 hours,” an update from the NWT’s wildfire management team read.

Satellite hotspot data shows, in red and orange, recent burn activity at a wildfire east of Tsiigehtchic as of 7am on July 27, 2019

Satellite hotspot data shows, in red and orange, recent burn activity at a wildfire east of Tsiigehtchic as of 7am on July 27, 2019.

The Mackenzie River bends to the west between the fire’s present location and Tsiigehtchic, creating a formidable natural fire break.

Dry conditions have raised the fire danger rating in the region to extreme, but the fire was sufficiently far from any communities to pose no threat beyond local smoke.

Meanwhile, in the North Slave, the territory’s fire crews have renewed confidence in their ability to contain two troublesome fires following recent rain.


The Awry Lake fire, still 41 km northwest of Yellowknife, grew by 429 hectares since Friday to reach 4,084 hectares by Saturday afternoon. The fire remains of no threat to Yellowknife, the territory said.

“Ground crews will continue to remove fuels and extinguish hot spots from the fire perimeter today,” read Saturday’s update.

“Helipads are being established on the northern and western sides of the fire to prepare for fire response. The overarching objective is full containment of the fire.”

Full containment is achieved when crews successfully stop a wildfire spreading beyond its established perimeter.


The Marian Lake fire, 12 km north of Behchokǫ̀, stalled in Friday’s wet weather.

“There has been minimal fire activity over the last 24 hours,” the territory said of the 163-hectare fire, which is not an immediate threat to the community. Again, the territory’s fire crews are working to fully contain the fire.

Cooler temperatures also helped crews working on a fire northeast of Wekweètì, the territory said.