WILDFIRE UPDATE, AUG. 31, 7:30 P.M.: “The calm before the storm today—literally.”

Extreme fire conditions expected in the North and South Slave on Friday.

Working the brush in the summer of 2023 wildfire season. (NWT Fire photo)

Thursday was “the calm before the storm today—literally” for fires in the North Slave, according to Fire NWT.

Strong winds and hot temperatures are forecast for Friday, which is expected to cause extreme fire behaviour from the North Slave Complex of fires.

Near Hay River, Friday is also forecast to be a challenging day.:Firefighting efforts are focused on preparation, with the fire expected to grow eastward tomorrow.

Extreme fire behaviour is also forecast for the Wood Buffalo Complex, along the Alberta-N.W.T. border, on Friday.

On the financial support front, the GNWT is activating its Disaster Assistance Policy for the communities of Behchokǫ̀, Enterprise, Fort Smith, Hay River, KFN, Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilo, Jean Marie River, Kakisa, Wekweètì, Sambaa K’e, and “potentially” the Ingraham Trail, according to Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Shane Thompson. This policy offers financial compensation to N.W.T. residents who suffered losses due to the wildfire that are not otherwise covered by insurance.

Speaking in a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Minister of Finance Caroline Wawzonek said she is “pretty confident” funds have already been deposited for the Income Disruption Support Program, since it’s a preexisting program, and she “believes” money has been deposited for the first round of applications for the Evacuation Travel Support Program.

On the Emergency Management Front, the GNWT plans to release an evacuee registration database to help families reconnect, according to Emergency Management Organization Spokesperson Jay Boast. “Evacuees have registered in various different locations, and so we are consolidating that information into one searchable database,” he said.

He said there will be a toll-free hotline residents can call that will help connect them with loved ones.

In the same press conference, RCMP Corporal Matt Halstead also addressed rumours of a convoy of vehicles returning to the territory before the evacuation orders are up. He said there is no evidence to suggest it had yet materialized beyond the planning stage.

“The message I would give is, please don’t engage in this behaviour,” he said. “There’s risks on the highway, there’s the potential for delays for essential supplies coming in here that are needed for the reentry planning and the firefighting efforts.”

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.