Wildfire season is below average so far

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Wildfire season is below average, GNWT’s Manager of Fire Operations, Richard Olsen told reporters Tuesday.

Compared to a 10-year average of 76 , this season has only produced 46 wildfires: one in Inuvik, three in Sahtu, 10 in Dehco, 15 in the North Slave and 17 in the South Slave. That amounts to 4694 hectares burned, Olsen said. 

Since the last wildfire report, there have been eight new fires, five of which saw action he said. Fire response dealt with one fire near Taltson Dam in Fort Smith with an aerial ignition machine. Slung underneath a helicopter, the machine is a drum that drips fuel from a tube onto the forest floor before igniting it to burn an area clear.

Olsen said it was successful and that current action largely involves removing equipment. 

The other four fires occurred from June 24 to June 25, all within 20 km of Behchoko. The closest fire was 12 hectares large and within 10 km of the community. All the fires are now out, Olsen said, but were “definitely a threat to the community.” 

Firefighting Bootcamp

Olsen shared plans to host an on-the-land boot camp near Fort Providence the week of July 15 to promote forestry and fire management among high school students. With food and transportation provided, the program is open to for students from 16 to 18 year-olds.

“It’s fairly common for us to do this kind of training in the field so they get used to setting-up camp, living in the camp, and working in the environment,” Olsen said about the program, which typically runs three to five days. 

Burn Permits 

Burn permits are still required for anything out of municipal boundaries until Oct. 1, Olsen said, adding that permits can be obtained from your local ENR office. 

Additionally, any fires made for warmth or cooking should be clear of vegetation. Rocks should also be used to clear the mineral soil to reduce chances of fire reaching forest. 

When leaving a site, the fire should be completely extinguished. Any ashes should be soaked, stirred and then soaked again.