Fire closes second campground
Campers asked to avoid Prelude Lake Park

Tracy Kovalench
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 29/98) - Campers looking for a spot at Prelude Lake Park will have to pitch their tents elsewhere.

Threatened by a forest fire just 18 kilometres away from its boat launch, the park closed its gates Friday. Only those with seasonal camping passes will be admitted into the park, said GNWT press secretary Judy Langford.

"The place isn't under any immediate threat," said Langford, "but it's closed."

Burning 45 kilometres east of Yellowknife along the Ingraham Trail, fire ZF29 has been joined by 13 combined fires in the Gordon Lake area. Linked by a one-kilometre-by-500-metre band of flames, the fires have burned about 145,000 hectares.

Last weekend's rain provided little firefighting relief, forcing crews to switch their method of attack from burning out the fire's path to reinforcing the estimated 28-kilometre control line and mopping up previously blazed areas.

"It actually has slowed us down from making the progress we wanted to make," said forest management services spokesman Bill Maudsley.

Hoping for the best and planning for the worst, Langford says the campground's closure, which follows last week's voluntary evacuation of the Reid Lake area is a precautionary measure to reduce the number of people in the area.

Only three Prelude campsites are currently occupied, serving as the only neighbors to the staff at Prelude Lake Lodge.

"We might as well not be there," said owner Margaret Peterson, who added that her family-run business has suffered financially because of the fire.

Although all nine of its cabins have remained empty since last weekend, the lodge is still open for business.

All guests scheduled to stay at the lodge this week have cancelled, said Peterson.

Peterson was one of about 100 people who attended a fire information meeting Thursday evening. Impressed by the information supplied by forestry management officers, Peterson feels more meetings are needed to improve communication between the GNWT and residents of the Ingraham Trail.

"It sets people's minds more at ease," said Peterson.