Wekweètì residents evacuated due to wildfires

Two planes carried away dozens of residents as three fires threaten the community.

(Raymond Pidzamecky/Facebook)

Residents of Wekweeti have been evacuated as a trio of wildfires threatens the community.

The evacuation took place yesterday afternoon, when two planes arrived in the community to take fleeing residents to Yellowknife.

About 47 people were on board the two planes, including many Elders and other vulnerable residents, according to Wekweètì’s Senior Administrative Officer, Fred Behrens. Behrens and about 20 others are still in the community looking after municipal services and infrastructure.

A map of the area showing the locations of the fires. (NWT Fire)

The three fires all sprang up this week. The largest of the three, located between the community and the airstrip, was last estimated at 50 hectares in size, and continues to grow. According to the GNWT, that fire is mostly growing in the direction of the airport.

Another fire is across from the community on the south side of Snare Lake, and a third is by Cotterill Lake.

Airtankers and helicopters continue to pelt the area between the fire and the community to limit the spread of the fire.

Despite the circumstances, Behrens says he isn’t worried for his own safety. “We have many boats here, so whoever’s left over if, God forbid, the fire would actually come into the community and we had to make a hasty retreat somewhere, we’d be right in our boats,” he says.

Evacuees looking for updates should follow the Wekweètì community page on Facebook.

This story will continue to be updated as more details become available.

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 ian.down@cklb.com, or follow him on Twitter at @IanDown1996.