Fire Fighting in Canada

Uncategorized Emergency Management
More than half of N.W.T. wildfires so far this season caused by humans: officials

May 23, 2023 
By The Canadian Press

Officials in the Northwest Territories say more than half of the wildfires in the territory this year were started by people.

A total of 15 wildfires have burned 161 square kilometres across the territory so far this season, eight of which are suspected to have been caused by humans.

Wildlife information officer Mike Westwick says usually between eight to 20 per cent of wildfires in the territory are human-caused each season.

Nine fires are actively burning in the N.W.T., including an of-control wildfire about 32 square kilometres in size on the K’atl’odeeche First Nation, which is believed to have been human-caused.


About 3,500 people from the reserve and nearby town of Hay River remain displaced after evacuation orders were issued May 14.

The First Nation says 18 buildings have been damaged on the reserve while no damage has been reported in Hay River.

“This kind of incident can happen to any of us in our communities, which are susceptible to fire below the tree line,” Westwick said. “We’re seeing firsthand the consequences of fire caused by human activity.”

The territory says that over the past week, nearly 14 kilometres of control lines have been built through the forest to help prevent the fire from spreading to the southeast.

The Town of Hay River was scheduled to host a public meeting Tuesday night, and present an overview of its plan for residents to return. A local state of emergency remains in place in Hay River.

Other fires currently burning include a lightning-cased fire approximately 100 kilometres west of Kakisa. The territory says the community isn’t currently at risk.

A lightning-caused fire is also burning approximately 50 kilometres south of Sambaa K’e. Crews have been pulled off due to fire intensity and risk, but the wildfire is continuing to be monitored.

The fire danger forecast is high in many communities across the territory.

“There’s a whole lot of season ahead of us, and we expect that these hot dry conditions that we’re seeing are not going away any time soon and that we’re gonna have a tough season. So we really need everyone’s help,” Westwick said.

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