NWT wildfire crews were conducting more aerial patrols for smoke as stormy conditions brought lightning to much of the North Slave on Wednesday evening.
The territory said on Facebook it had already increased its patrols, designed to spot wildfires in their early stages, in response to the fire danger being rated extreme across the Dehcho, North Slave, and South Slave.
There have so far been 22 wildfires in the NWT this season, according to a live map of the fires produced by the NWT government. Ten of those are out.
Crews were fighting a new fire east of Yellowknife on Wednesday afternoon. Witnesses reported air tankers attacking a fire to the west of Reid Lake, near Jennejohn Lake.
In an update on Wednesday evening, the territory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) said the fire was about 18 hectares in size and being held by three air tanker groups and four crews.
Those firefighters were working on the fire into the evening.
“No structures have been impacted at this time. An update on this fire will be posted tomorrow,” ENR stated.
In total, five new fires in the North Slave have been reported in the past 24 hours. At least four were lightning-caused – the cause of the fifth, near Jennejohn, was not confirmed as of 6pm on Wednesday.
In the South Slave, a fire 40 km east of Hay River is about 10 hectares in size and being fought.
In the Dehcho, a series of fires around 100 km east of Wrigley together cover more than 6,000 hectares and are being monitored, but no properties or people are in immediate danger.
Summarizing the picture across the territory earlier on Wednesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said: “There is no threat to any communities or structures at this time.”
The first real lightning storms of the summer have caused a significant uptick in the number of wildfires in the territory.
Prior to the past week, all fires in the territory this season had been triggered by humans.
Active fires (in red and orange) and fires declared out (black) across the NWT as of 6pm on June 24, 2020.
Lightning strikes across the North Slave as of 6pm on June 24, 2020. Red dots indicate strikes in the past three hours, and yellow dots indicate strikes three to six hours old. White are 12 to 24 hours old.