Yellowknife residents ordered to leave as wildfire burns nearby
August 17, 2023 By The Canadian Press
YELLOWKNIFE — Residents of the capital of the Northwest Territories and two neighbouring First Nation communities have been ordered to evacuate the area by Friday because of an encroaching wildfire.
The evacuation order issued late Wednesday applies to Yellowknife, which has a population of about 20,000 people, as well as the nearby communities of Ndilo and Dettah.
The territorial government says residents living along Ingraham Trail and in Dettah, Kam Lake, Grace Lake and the Engle Business District are at highest risk and should leave as soon as possible.
It says other residents have until noon on Friday to leave.
The government says it is safe for people to leave Yellowknife by road, while air evacuations for people at higher risk, such as those who are immunocompromised, are set to begin this afternoon.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Premier Caroline Cochrane asked residents leaving by road to obey all warning signs, emergency management officials, traffic control devices and posted speed limits.
“We’re all in this together, but individually we choose how to react,” Cochrane wrote. “We will get through this. Now more than ever is the time to ask for help if you need it and to work together.
“We’re all tired of the word unprecedented, yet there is no other way to describe this situation in the Northwest Territories. The country is watching, and our neighbours are keeping us in their thoughts and prayers.”
The government issued a release saying Speaker Fredrick Blake Jr. had ordered the postponement of the second sitting of the legislative assembly, which had been scheduled to resume on Monday, Aug. 21.
The City of Yellowknife says transit, trucked water and sewer services, and residential garbage collection have been suspended.
The territorial government says evacuees from the capital who can’t find their own accommodation can get support in three Alberta communities, as the government searches for more hosts. Reception centres for Yellowknife evacuees are set to open at noon Thursday in Valleyview, Fox Creek and Red Deer.
The closest of those centres, in Valleyview, is more than 1,000 kilometres by road from Yellowknife.
Evacuees from the South Slave region, including Hay River and Enterprise, who need support should head to Leduc, Alta., a city just south of Edmonton, the government said. An evacuee reception centre is set to open there as of 8 a.m.
Reception centres in the Alberta cities of St. Albert and Grande Prairie are full, the territorial government said.
Meanwhile, the government of Nunavut says it is in regular contact with the Northwest Territories government to see what help it can provide, and it is also working to ensure Nunavummiut affected by wildfires are safe.