Urgent Evacuation Orders Issued as Wildfires Approach Yellowknife and Neighbouring Areas

Waterbomber fighting wildfire near Temagami
Waterbomber fighting wildfire - Image supplied by Ontario Government

Yellowknife and nearby towns are facing evacuation orders due to the encroaching threat of wildfires

Evacuation Orders Prompted by Wildfire Progress

Residents of Yellowknife and surrounding towns have been given evacuation orders set for Friday at noon, as wildfires are projected to approach these communities by Saturday.

Proximity of Flames Prompts Evacuation Preparations

The wildfires were reported to be around 17 kilometers away from Yellowknife’s municipal boundary as of last night. The topography, coupled with multiple ongoing forest fires along the evacuation routes, might potentially complicate the evacuation process.

Early Evacuation for Vehicle Owners; Alternate Arrangements in Place

Officials have suggested that individuals with vehicles begin their evacuation as early as last night. For those who are unable to use their own vehicles, buses and planes have been arranged to assist in the evacuation. The first aerial evacuation is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, and evacuees will initially be hosted in Calgary.

Transitioning International Firefighters and Potential Impact

In a related development, a substantial number of international firefighters are leaving Canada as their contracts conclude. These firefighters are needed in their respective countries where wildfires also require attention. The number of international firefighters in Canada has decreased from a peak of 1,754 in early July to 680 currently. Concerns are arising about possible shortages in firefighting personnel due to these departures.

Evacuation Order for Yellowknife, N’dilo, Dettah, and Ingraham Trail August 16, 2023

Pursuant to Section 17 of the Emergency Management Act and following the declaration of a state of emergency by the Minister on August 15, 2023, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs directs that residents of the City of Yellowknife, Ndılǫ, Dettah and Ingraham Trail begin evacuating.

Residents should evacuate according to risk. Residents living along the Ingraham Trail, in Dettah, Kam Lake, Grace Lake and Engle Business District are currently at highest risk and should evacuate as soon as possible.

Other residents have until noon on Friday, August 18, 2023 to evacuate.

Additional Information Residents have multiple options available to them for evacuation. These include: Driving

• It is safe for residents who have a vehicle and are able to drive to start evacuating now.

• If there are smoky conditions, residents evacuating by highway will be escorted from Yellowknife through the active fire zone.

• Please obey all warning signs, emergency management officials, traffic control devices and posted speed limits.

• Please ensure that you have filled your gas tank before leaving Yellowknife.

• At this time there are no evacuations reception centres established for individuals leaving Yellowknife by vehicle. Air Evacuation

• Only residents who do not have the option to leave the area by road are asked to register for evacuation flights.

• Residents who are immunocompromised or have a condition that puts them at higher risk of severe outcomes are encouraged to register for flights as soon as possible due to intensifying smoke in the region.

• Air evacuations are scheduled to begin at 1pm Thursday, August 17, 2023.

• A flight schedule is currently under development and will be posted to the GNWT’s public safety page, along with other details before midnight tonight.

• Residents will be asked to present, with their baggage, at Sir John Franklin High School after 10:00 AM Thursday August 17, 2023.

• Due to space and weight limitations, bag size is limited to standard carry-on. Passengers are asked to bring no more than 5 days’ worth of clothing, as well as essentials such as medication, chargers and important family documents including identification, insurance and bank records.

• Residents are also asked to bring snacks and a water bottle with them as there may be an extended time between registration and arrival at the evacuation destination. • Pets will be permitted on all flights, with the following restrictions: o On commercial carriers, pets must be crated.

o On Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, pets should be crated whenever possible. If crates are not available, cats must be harnessed, dogs must be leashed and both must be held as close as possible at all times. Other pets must be contained in appropriate cages.

Sheltering in Place

• There will be facilities in Yellowknife available for residents who wish to shelter in place.

• Evacuees from Dettah and the Ingraham Trail can find an evacuation center at the Yellowknife Multiplex beginning immediately.

• All residents arriving at the evacuation centers will be asked to register upon entering.

• Due to space limitations, residents are asked to bring no more than 5 days’ worth of clothing, as well as blankets, sleeping bags, or other bedding, as well as essentials such as medication, chargers and important family documents.

• The shelters will have food resources available, however residents are asked to bring non-perishable snacks and/or additional food items for themselves and their families.

• Pets will be permitted – residents are expected to crate animals, otherwise pets must be harnessed or leashed, and always kept with their family.

• Please carpool or be dropped off at the shelters to avoid exceeding parking capacity.

• These shelters are a temporary measure and all residents who are planning to shelter in place are asked to act with kindness towards their community members.

Please offer support to your friends and neighbors, like car rides or additional supplies, and be respectful.

Boat Evacuation • Evacuating by boat to an island or cabin is NOT recommended. With fires in the area air quality is expected to decline. DO NOT evacuate to an island or cabin on Great Slave Lake. Residents who choose not to evacuate should understand they stay at their own risk. Responders may not be able to come to your rescue if it is unsafe to do so. Please follow the directions of emergency personnel and officials.

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