The Town of Hay River is preparing for the worst tonight as the fire situation takes a negative turn.
That’s according to updates shared at the most recent GNWT press conference.
On Friday, extreme temperatures and winds from the southwest pushed the fire towards the community. Nonessential personnel are being evacuated as fire crews and aircraft were forced to pull back from the blaze.
At last estimate, the fire was about 7 kilometres from the fire guard outside the town, but it is almost certainly closer now, according to Fire Information Officer Jessica Davey-Quantick.
Davey-Quantick said weather was unfavourable in both the North and South Slave regions today, with record-high temperatures in the North Slave for this time of year. Jean Marie River remains under evacuation alert, while crews are working through the night fighting the fire nearest to Fort Smith.
In the Yellowknife area, the fire remains about 15 km from the N.W.T. capital at its nearest point, according to the most recent estimate.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek announced a suite of new financial supports for evacuees: Residents who evacuated by car will now receive $750 per vehicle if they evacuated outside the territory and $400 per vehicle if they evacuated within the territory.
Wawzonek says the cost of this program is expected to be about $6 million.
Details of how to apply for return flights should hopefully be released early next week, according to Wawzonek.
Finally, earlier today Premier Caroline Cochrane took aim at the federal government for what she sees as years of neglect of Northern infrastructure.
“It is time for the North to be treated like every other citizen, not like a third world country.” she told CBC’s The Current.