Hwy 7 fire was out, but hot winds blew it back to life

In Fort Good Hope, emotions raw after helicopter crash and relentless wildfire entering third week

Break time at Fort Good Hope. (Photo courtesy of NWT Fire)

A wildfire along Highway 7 (Liard Trail), which was previously brought under control, flared up under dry conditions and heavy winds, jumped containment, and grew to 49 hectares overnight.

Fire FS008 has reached Highway 7 at Kilometre 236 on the west side, but did not impact access as air support was able to reduce its intensity enough last night, NWT Fire stated this afternoon.

However, the highway was forced closed late Sunday afternoon.

Mike Westwick speaks for NWT Fire.

“Significant winds from the north have a high potential to lead to highway impacts today – fire activity is already picking up along the highway. We will work with local highways team to ensure safety in the area,” he stated in a release.

“This fire is being assessed today for management over the longer term. Airtankers will action it to work to keep intensity down, maintain highway access, and limit its growth.”

Large regions of the NWT have experienced smoke since Saturday. It is from fires in Yukon and British Columbia, riding winds from the south.

Meanwhile, the Fort Good Hope wildfire VQ001, has grown to 7,692 hectares or more, with no precipitation in the forecast.

Shannon Graf is the information officer for that fire, which has the community’s evacuation entering its third week.

“The area has still experienced an extended period of abnormally dry conditions,” she stated in a release.

“This could lead to stubborn fire behaviour meaning significant effort will be needed to extinguish the fire at this time.”

The western perimeter from the Mackenzie river to Rabbit Skin was scanned and areas were identified for actioning.

Lines will be ‘cold trailed,’ meaning checking for heat coming from the ground with bare hands, to make sure the blackline is secured in the northwest and southern areas of the fire.

Fort Good Hope’s leadership is growing frustrated with a few people not obeying evacuation rules.

The emotional intensity has only increased in recent days with the tragic helicopter crash on Friday.

Fort Good Hope Chief Collin Pierrot after the June 15 evacuation. (Image courtesy Teams/GNWT livestream)

Chief Collin Pierrot has made some posts this weekend, clearly speaking from the heart.

“It was been a difficult day yesterday (Friday) and I was super busy with the community. We decided to pull our workers in and do a debriefing with community members. I realize everyone has been doing a lot and overwhelmed by the events from yesterday.

“The wildfire is still very much active and is still a danger. Our team alongside with the help of the NWT and Yukon crews are working day and night to gain control of the wildfire.

“We have faced set backs where each step forward we take, we then take two steps back.

“We are not giving up but yesterday we were not prepared for what was in-store.

“I understand that community members are frustrated from being away from their home. When the community is safe and evacuees are safe to return. I will let everyone know so we arrange for your safe return to Fort Good Hope.”

VQ001 latest fire map.

In the North Slave region, fire ZF010 on an island in Great Slave Lake south of Dettah is suspected to have been caused by an abandoned campfire.
It was driven by high winds into nearby forest and flammable building materials. A cabin nearby was unfortunately lost as a result. An initial attack crew now has a good handle on the fire. Work continues to ensure it is contained.

Fire ZF011, near Marian Lake Village, is a five-hectare, lightning-caused fire 18 kilometres northwest of Behchoko. Air support and an initial attack crew are working to contain the fire.

About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: james.oconnor@cklbradio.com.