A June 8 wildfire approximately 350 metres off the Inuvik—Tuktoyaktuk highway required the use of a helicopter, one fire technician and one ground crew to suppress over the course of nearly 12 hours.
Located 84 kilometres down the highway, the cause of the fire was concluded to be an abandoned campfire. It is the fourth suspected human-caused fire this season so far. The fire was discovered at 8:35 p.m. and assessed over the evening. Firefighters began work on the fire at 9 a.m. the next morning and had the fire under control by 6 p.m.
With the entire Beaufort Delta listed at Extreme Fire Risk due to dry foliage and strong winds, a spokesperson for the GNWT told the Inuvik Drum taking responsibility for one’s campfire is more important than ever.
“This year, with the additional risks of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to limit the number of human-caused fires in the NWT,” said Communications Planning Specialist Jessica Davey-Quantick. “This will help reduce exposure between crew members and the public and is critical to ensure the health and safety of all northerners.”
Campers, hunters, hikers and drivers alike should keep their cigarette butts instead of discarding them, campfires should be attended at all times and when breaking camp ashes should be soaked, stirred, and soaked a second time to ensure there is no remaining heat to ignite fuel.
All terrain vehicles can be a serious wildfire risk. Trailblazers are asked to stop their vehicles every so often to check for hot spots and the vehicle should be kept clean of debris. It is also recommended keeping at least five litres of water or a class ABC fire extinguisher on hand for off-road adventuring.
Davey-Quantick also pointed out that anyone found to be responsible for causing a wildfire could face a $1,000 in fines, or up to two years in jail, or both.
If you spot smoke from the highway, take note of the kilometre marking and report where you saw the smoke to 1-877-698-3473 (1-877-NWT-FIRE.) Residents can also get up to date fire and hazard information by visiting www.nwtfire.com or following NWT Fire/Feux TNO on Facebook and/or Twitter.