Yellowknife As the Behchoko/Yellowknife wildfire burns out of control less than 10 miles outside the city, about 20,000 residents of Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and the surrounding territories have been told to leave their homes. Other towns and cities in the area are under threat from more than 230 active flames.
Yellowknife On Wednesday, the minister of municipal and community affairs issued an order to evacuate…
requiring inhabitants of Yellowknife and Ingraham Trail to leave their homes and places of business by automobile and airplane. Additionally, the citizens of N’Dilo and Dettah, two First Nations communities, were instructed to leave. Residents were given until Friday at noon to leave, and authorities warned that if it didn’t rain, the area might experience a weekend blaze.
According to the government’s status update, “These fires remain out-of-control,” and as of Tuesday, satellite images showed the fires near Yellowknife.
According to information from the government’s department of environment and climate change, airtankers conducted missions all through Wednesday night to put out the fire. While others attempted to safeguard cabins and other structures near Highway 3, the main road west from Yellowknife, firefighting crews did their best to put out hot spots. Officials are implementing safety measures within the city, such as activating sprinklers and setting up fuel breaks.
The pictures of the fire are tragic. As locals attempt to evacuate the region, photos and videos posted on social media sites depict bumper-to-bumper traffic. Others show smoke-filled cars driving down the highway, with burning trees along the highways as they head for safety.
‘Hoping for the best but prepared for the worst’
An international student from the Philippines named Kimberly Benito is enrolled in an online program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology while spending a year in Yellowknife. She claimed that was the first time she had ever seen a wildfire up close.
Benito told NPR, “For the previous week, whenever I would peek out the window, I would notice how orange/smoky the skies are, and that’s pretty alarming.
Benito said on her Instagram story on Wednesday, “Hoping for the best but prepared for the worst,” as she packed a box with her stuff.
She traveled 65 miles northwest of the city on Highway 3 to Behchoko. She claimed that because police had to accompany vehicles across dangerous terrain, traffic was stop-and-go for approximately an hour and a half. She filled up her tank and two Jerry cans with gas before leaving town because she had heard that the gas stations along the way were congested.
When there were traffic jams or delays, Benito recalled, “What kept us amused was seeing that most of the cars with us had their pets with them.” The way Canadians treated their pets as members of the family was touching.
Her dachshund puppy named Bruno was another animal companion she kept in the car.
On her journey to Calgary, which is another 180 miles away, Benito spent the night driving and was nearly in Edmonton by Thursday afternoon, which is 900 miles from Yellowknife.
Evacuation flights available
The evacuation order states that people who cannot leave by automobile, as well as those who are immunocompromised or have high-risk medical problems, can register for evacuation planes. According to the order, those planes were scheduled to begin departing today at 1 p.m. Passengers are only permitted to bring one carry-on item.
As the fires get closer, officials advise against making boat evacuations to surrounding islands because the air quality would deteriorate.
Shane Thompson, minister of municipal affairs, issued the declaration on Tuesday so that the territory could gather and use urgently required resources to put out the flames.
In a news release on Tuesday, Thompson stated, “We find ourselves in a crisis situation and our government is using every tool available to assist.”
According to the municipal website, Yellowknife was established as a gold mining town in 1934 on the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. In 1967, it was named the capital of the Northwestern Territories, and now it serves as the region’s center for business, culture, and government services. The Northern Lights can be seen beautifully there as well.
The city resumed mining after diamonds were found nearby in 1991, and since then, three mines within a short flight of the city have been opened. According to the mine’s principal owner, the De Beers Group, Gahcho Kuéopene, the largest new diamond mine in the world, popped up in 2016 around 175 miles northeast of Yellowknife, just south of the Arctic Circle.