Wildfire update: Aug. 24, 9:00 p.m.: Jean Marie River residents can return home, while Hay River prepares for ‘tough days ahead’

Hot conditions, unfavourable winds in the forecast for Hay River, Fort Smith areas.

(CKLB file photo)

Residents of Jean Marie River can now return home, while Hay River is preparing for “tough days ahead” over the next few days, according to NWT Fire.

Hot conditions are forecast, and winds are expected to push the fire toward the town.

The Town promised to publicly release a plan to deal with the situation, but as of 8:45 p.m. no plan was available on either their website or Facebook page. Fire remains 8 km from the community at its closest point, according to the most recent estimate.

Difficult conditions are forecast for the Fort Smith area as well: Hot weather and no precipitation are in the forecast, with winds that will push the fire towards the town. More than 300 personnel are on this fire.

Elsewhere, the news is better: Residents of Jean Marie River were given the green light to return today, although the community remains under an evacuation alert. Highway 3 also reopened to traffic from Yellowknife to Behchokǫ̀, but not in the opposite direction.

Fire is still about 15 km from Yellowknife at its closest point, according to the most recent estimate. According to officials, the fire has little chance of reaching Yellowknife city boundaries in the next three days. But there’s still a chance of the fire breaching defences and growing towards the east over the next 48 hours.

Thursday was also a rollercoaster day for telecoms across the territory: First, shortly before 1:00 p.m., Northwestel announced service had been restored to every community. Just hours later, around quarter to 4:00, the company announced all service had been cut off to Kakisa and Jean Marie River, and long-distance landline service to Hay River and Fort Smith had been impacted as well.

NWT Fire later announced full service had been restored to Kakisa and Fort Smith.

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.