Calm start to the NWT’s 2018 wildfire season, for now

NWT firefighters tackle a wildfire burning south of Fort Liard in May 2018
NWT firefighters tackle a wildfire burning south of Fort Liard in May 2018. Photo: GNWT

Three small wildfires are the extent of the NWT’s 2018 wildland fire season to date, though experts have already warned to expect more severe fires later in the summer.

On Monday, fire operations manager Richard Olsen said all three fires reported so far occurred in the Dehcho. Two were in the immediate vicinity of Fort Simpson; one was probably caused by a lightning strike in the southwestern edge of the territory, beyond Fort Liard.

Both Fort Simpson fires, which happened earlier in May, are long since out. The fire in Fort Liard, only one hectare in size, should be completely dealt with by Tuesday this week at the latest.

“We had two crews over the weekend working to completely extinguish it. My understanding is they are just finishing that up today and will be done with that fire by tomorrow,” Olsen told reporters in a wildfire briefing by teleconference.



Olsen said the amount of activity so far was “not too far off the norm,” adding: “We would expect a couple person-caused fires in May and lightning-caused fires starting to occur near the end of May. It’s not unusual to see something like that.”

‘A drying trend’

According to the territory’s wildland fire website, both cases in Fort Simpson were caused by people igniting brush.

Providing an update on territorial conditions, Olsen said: “In some areas of the NWT we’ve had less precipitation than normal, but some areas have received consistent precipitation. Parts of the NWT are still transitioning out of spring conditions with occasional snow in some locations farther north, and periods of rain over the past week.

“We expect some of the rain will continue but it looks like things will stabilize and we will get back into a drying trend over the weekend.”

Almost all of the territory’s firefighting resources are now trained and ready for deployment.

Earlier this month, Olsen said a dry spring and slightly below-average snow cover would most likely mean a normal start to the season but increased fire severity as the summer progresses.