Residents return to KFN, while wildfire approaches Sambaa K’e

"My heart goes out to everyone that lost their homes," says KFN Chief April Martel

A photo posted by KFN Chief April Martel shows some of the wildfire devastation in her community. (Facebook photo)

After weeks of fear and uncertainty, residents of Kátł’odeeche First Nation (KFN) are starting to return home.

In a message posted to social media on June 6, KFN said residents could once again start returning to the community.

Power, water and sewer services have not yet been restored. Returning residents are asked to turn off the breaker panels in their houses so the power can be turned back on.

Residents of KFN were first ordered to evacuate on May 14. Since then, more than a dozen buildings have been damaged, including the Band Office.

Despite the news, the reserve is still closed to the public, and a security checkpoint is in place at the entrance to the community.

The Chief Lamalice Complex is now offering services to returning residents. These include meals, cleaning kits, and other services. The community is also planning to offer mental health, crisis, and other supports in the coming days.

Already, photos of the devastation have begun circulating on social media: On June 7, KFN Chief April Martel posted a photo showing the remains of a burnt teepee that belonged to her grandmother.

“My heart goes out to everyone that lost their homes, and this is why the Elders always tell people to be nice to others as you don’t know what tomorrow will bring,” she wrote.

A map of KFN and surrounding area, including data on the state of the fire as of June 7. (Courtesy of NWT Fire)

Wildfire draws closer to Sambaa K’e

As residents return to KFN, fire crews continue to battle the blaze approaching the community of Sambaa K’e.

That fire has been held at bay about ten kilometres from the community. But the fire may still reach the community in the coming days, according to the most recent update from NWT Fire on the afternoon of June 6.

One home has already been damaged, by a fire lit between the lake and the airstrip that was meant to deprive the wildfire of fuel.

As of this afternoon, the fire was deemed out of control and had consumed nearly 250,000 hectares of land. There was light rain last night and this morning, which helped to keep the fire at bay. Winds are also expected to change direction and push the fire away from the community.

Residents were evacuated last week, with an evacuation centre being set up in Fort Simpson.

About the Author

Ian Down
Ian Down is a general news reporter from the West Island of Montreal. After studying journalism and computer science at Concordia University, he came to Yellowknife in 2021, joining the CKLB team in September 2022. When not behind his desk, you can find him at a local Yellowknife poetry reading, or annoying his roommates by playing his clarinet at odd hours. Feel free to reach out with any tips or story ideas at, or follow him on Twitter at @IanDown1996.