Fire Fighting in Canada

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Health warning issued as smoke blankets Yellowknife

July 16, 2014, Yellowknife, N.W.T. - Environment Canada has issued a high health risk warning for Yellowknife and surrounding area because of heavy smoke in the region due to forest fires.

July 16, 2014
By The Globe and Mail

That means the general population should consider reducing strenuous
activities outdoors, and children, the elderly, and those with
respiratory conditions should take additional precautions.

High values are forecast to persist until Wednesday evening when a
cold front moves across the region and is expected to clear some of the
smoke.

There are currently 160 fires burning throughout the Northwest Territories.

Bill
Mawdsley, director of forest fire management with the NWT Department of
the Environment, says there are currently no people in harm’s way from
any of the fires and no plans for any evacuations.

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Officials with
the Northwest Territories Power Corp. said a widespread power outage
that hit Yellowknife, Hay River and Behchoko on Tuesday was not related
to the forest fires but was caused by lightning strikes.

The fires
were causing other problems, however, including intermittent road
closures and the destruction of some fibre optic cables. Highway 3 from
Fort Providence to Edzo was closed Tuesday night due to heavy smoke.

On the territories’ fire information website, so many people tried to access a “live fire map” that it crashed.

“Over
the last 14 days, over one million people have accessed the map,”
officials said on the territories’ Facebook page. “This has had a huge
impact on how fast information can be accessed not only by the public
but also by our fire personnel that use the system. We have temporarily
shut down the public map to see if we can increase the performance for
fire management.”

In the Sahtu region, a fire has been burning
about 12 kilometres from a Husky Oil camp, but officials say there is no
current threat to the camp or its workers.

There has also been a
mixed blessing in the weather that has been hitting the area.
Thunderstorms were bringing heavy downpours in some regions, but were
also increasing the number of lightning strikes in drier areas.