A large wildfire discovered on Saturday some 100 km west of Fort Simpson has burned down two cabins on Little Doctor Lake.
The destroyed cabins were not discovered until Sunday. Wildfire crews were initially unable to access the area “due to extreme fire behaviour and heavy smoke,” the territorial government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The fire, FS-019, is considered out of control and is currently the largest wildfire in the territory at more than 6,500 hectares.
Mayor of Fort Simpson Sean Whelly said crews are working to protect other at-risk cabins in the Little Doctor Lake area, like those built by a local charter company. He said FS-019 will have to work its way around the lake to reach those cabins.
“I know they’ve been doing what they can to protect those ones,” said Whelly.
There are currently 12 active wildfires in Dehcho and 31 burning across the territory.
Wildfire FS-015, now 380 hectares in size, remains one kilometre away from Highway 1, which reopened on Saturday. Wildfire FS-016, around 13 km east of Fort Simpson, has burned just under 1,000 hectares in size. The territorial government said neither any local infrastructure nor the community of Fort Simpson were so far at risk.
Whelly said he was not immediately concerned by the wildfires burning near Fort Simpson but wondered about the impact of potential highway closures and smoke exposure.
“Are we prepared for people with breathing problems, asthma, and stuff like that?” Whelly said. “The fire is close enough that, with the right wind conditions, we could see a lot of smoke arriving in the community.
“I’m trying to make sure we’ve got a plan for that, that the elderly or people with breathing problems are going to be taken care of and the health department’s aware of it.”