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Forest fire burns near highway

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There is no risk of a large fire burning near Behchoko from cutting off highway access to Yellowknife for now, according to officials with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Judy McLinton, manager at public affairs and communications, said fire risk conditions are currently rated as extreme but neither Behchoko or Highway 3 are at risk from the 12,000 hectare-fire burning about 20 km north of the highway. Fire crews are currently attempting to keep the fire from spreading.

If the highway were to be closed, Yellowknife would be cut off from road access. When it's this dry, something as simple as a cigarette butt tossed out the window of a car can start a fire, said McLinton.

A separate fire located about 75 km northeast of Yellowknife of approximately 60 hectares, discovered Sunday, was most likely caused by a lightning strike. It was the smoke from the fire near Yellowknife that turned the sun bright red on Sunday.

"It's a very active fire," McLinton said.

"Monday you could see the smoke from it in town. Right now there's no risk to anything in the area but they'll continue to monitor and assess it."

There have been 19 forest fires reported in the North Slave region and 60 in total across the NWT since the beginning of the season, but those numbers are expected to rise after several thunder storms yesterday brought lightning strikes to the area.

"We are getting a lot of lightning strikes in the area," she said. "By Wednesday those numbers will probably change."

Around 0.3 millimetres of rain fell from Monday to Tuesday, which evaporated quickly due to high winds and heat, said McLinton. Because of the low rainfall and hot temperatures, she said people need to be really cautious about the fire danger. By Tuesday, 11 of the 19 fires in the North Slave region this year were out.

The held fire is not getting any worse but it also still being monitored.

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