Hundreds of wildfires raging in parts of Canada’s Northwest Territories have prompted officials to issue evacuation orders and declare a state of emergency as the fires threaten the capital, Yellowknife.
The state of emergency allows more resources to help the more than 230 active coal fires burning areas across the Northwest Territories, according to Shane Thompson, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.
“We find ourselves in a situation of crisis and our government is using every tool available to help,” Thompson said in a press release.
The mayor of Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, also issued a local emergency that was followed by an evacuation order for some areas as the fires approached.
Northwest Territories officials said in a news release Wednesday that the towns of Ndilo, Deta and the Ingram Trail are under evacuation orders. Officials added that those who cannot leave those areas by land can register for evacuation flights that will start on Thursday.
“Residents living along the Ingraham Trail, in Dietta, Cam Lake, Grace Lake and the Engel Business District are currently at the highest risk and must evacuate as soon as possible. Other residents have until noon on Friday, August 18,” officials said in the news release. August 2023 for eviction.
The new evacuation orders come as evacuation orders were placed in much of the South Slieve area – including the town of High River – over the weekend. Town officials said in a Facebook post that roads from High River to the Alberta border and west to Yellowknife were also closed.
The situation has changed quickly. Strong winds blew bonfires within 10 km (6 miles) of the community. The flames are expected to reach the Hay River this evening Facebook update Wednesday evening. “Crews who were in the path of the fire are withdrawing for their safety and re-locating to assist in other areas.”
An Alberta fire suppression team has been deployed to the Hay River region to help stop the fire from spreading, according to Canada’s Northwest Territories Fire Agency.
“Sprinklers and structure protection are in place and operational, and other operations will continue to operate when conditions permit,” the agency added.
Meanwhile, evacuees from the southern slavery advised at the beginning to go to a reception center in Grande Prairie, but the Northwest Territories government has since redirected them to a new center in St. Albert, Alberta.
As of Wednesday evening, a total of 236 fires were actively burning across the Northwest Territories, officials said.
Thick smoke billowing south into the US from the raging fires prompted an air quality alert from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Thursday and Friday.
“Dense ground-level smoke from wildfires in Canada’s Northwest Territories is moving south through central Canada toward Minnesota on Wednesday,” the National Weather Service warned. “A strong cold front will bring this smoke across the entire state on Thursday.”
The weather service said the smoke could reach the Minnesota-Canadian border around midnight Thursday, and would likely move over the Twin Cities around noon and southern Minnesota by 3 p.m. Thursday.
The weather service said air quality has the potential to reach the purple or very unhealthy category for several hours in eastern Minnesota.
Sensitive groups, such as people with lung or heart disease, the elderly, and children are urged to avoid prolonged or heavy exercise, and the general public is told to limit outdoor activity.
“Smoke will continue across the eastern half of the state on Friday and particulate matter levels will remain high for most of the day,” the weather service said. Winds will become southerly Friday afternoon and smoke will begin to recede from the state and dissipate. Air quality should improve below alert levels by the end of Friday.
In Canada, Minister of National Defense Bill Blair on Tuesday mobilized the Canadian Armed Forces to provide firefighting personnel, airlift resources, and logistical support to the Northwest Territories.
“We stand with the people of the Northwest Territories as they face their worst fire season ever, and I am confident that members of our military will do everything they can to help their fellow Canadians,” Blair said. statement.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in contact with Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochran on Wednesday.
To the people of the Northwest Territories: We’re here for you. We have mobilized members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and we will continue to provide all necessary resources. I spoke about that with Prime Minister Caroline Cochran today – and reaffirmed our commitment to providing assistance however we can,” Trudeau said in a statement. Social media mail.
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