After relatively close call with Behchoko last week, NWT forest fire season remains mild

Wildfire near the Taltson River from 2019. (Photo courtesy of ENR.)

The Tlicho community of Behchoko had a bit of a scare last week as at least one wildfire crept to about ten kilometres from the community.

That information came Tuesday from Richard Olsen, the Fort Smith-based manager of fire operations for the NWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

“There were actually four fires in the Behchoko area in about a 20 kilometre radius. We fought all four and they are all now out,”  Olsen said.

He adds that there have been 49 wildfires reported across the territory so far this year.

Olsen says that compares to the 10-year average of 76 fires by early July.

He adds that fires have consumed about 470 square kilometres in the NWT compared to the ten-year average of about 700 square kilometres by this time of year.

Olsen says a fire near the Taltson Dam in the South Slave region had their attention but adds it was fought with tanker drops and has now been contained.

There are no out of control fires in the NWT as of July 2.

He says that no cabins or other structures have been lost to fire this year in the NWT that he is aware of and no one has been hurt by fires.

Olsen adds that about two dozen NWT forest firefighters are being used elsewhere – the majority in Northern Alberta.

However, Olsen says personnel will be sent this week to help with fires near Watson Lake, Yukon.

He adds that ENR is planning an on-the-land boot camp later this summer for high school students – likely in Fort Providence.

Olsen says students between 16 and 18 years old who are interested in forestry careers or who want to become wildfire fighters should contact their local ENR for more information on the proposed boot camp.

Cool, wet weather remains in the forecast for much of the NWT for the coming week which should help keep the wildfire situation uncer control.

If you spot a wildfire – report it at 1-877-698-3473.

Fires by Region this season in NWT:

Inuvik – 1

Sahtu- 3

Dehcho – 10

North Slave – 15

South Slave – 17



About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.