No relief yet
Fire near Tibbitt lake will be a problem for the rest of the summe

Darren Campbell
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 24/98) - Yellowknifers may have to deal with the threat of forest fires for the rest of the summer.

Despite reports from the NWT Department of Resources that fire crews are making progress on control lines on the 60,000 hectare fire near Tibbitt Lake, as of Thursday afternoon, it was still not under control.

Beatrice Lepine, manager of forest development for the department, said Thursday that fire crews are holding off progress of the western flank of the fire near Hidden Lake.

At the same time, however, the fire is spreading north, east and south, and attention is turning to those fronts. Lepine said the priority right now is property along the Ingraham Trail.

And although she said crews are doing well, Yellowknifers should not expect a breather any time soon. "It will be a problem for the remainder of the summer ... unless we get a significant amount of rain," she said.

On Tuesday, Municipal Affairs Minister Manitok Thompson ordered all residents to evacuate the Ingraham Trail beyond Powder Point.

That order was made at 6 p.m., and by 7:30 p.m. the Yellowknife RCMP were out ensuring everyone in the area had left.

Staff Sgt. Dave Grundy said police found no one in the approximately 100 cabins in the area.

He said the roadblock the RCMP has put up at Powder Point will remain until the Emergency Measures Organization decides to do otherwise.

"It's a safety thing. There is a lot of machinery out there," said Grundy. "We don't want to get anyone trapped out there."

RCMP have also set up a checkpoint on the trail, just north of the Dettah access road. They will record names and licence plates numbers to keep track of people using the area while the fire still burns. People living on the trail will be given a form to show police so they don't have to register each time they pass the checkpoint.

Kate Tompkins, who has a two-storey house at Pickerel Lake, several kilometres east of Powder Point, is keeping a watchful eye on the fire situation.

The 49-year-old knows all about losing a home because of a fire -- it happened to her first home at the lake in November of 1996.

Tompkins packed up what she needed on Saturday and moved into Yellowknife. While she stays with various friends in the city, she can only wait and hope she has a home to go back to.

"For those of us living there full-time, it's our home and our investment. For us it is a pretty serious thing," said Tompkins.

"If my house burned down, I honestly don't know if I would stick around. That would be too much for me."

The acting director for public safety for the city, Fire Chief Mick Beauchamp said his office has received only two calls from people needing a place to stay. And he doesn't expect there to be a great need for that.

"The people with cabins there live in Yellowknife and the people who live year-round there have friends they can stay with," said Beauchamp.

He said the city is talking with other agencies, such as Social Services, to put the word out for people to call in if they are willing to billet those who need a place to stay.