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Forest fire closes highway and ferry
Blaze located 40 kilometres west of Fort Simpson

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012

The largest forest fire to date this season in the Deh Cho led to a day and a half of highway and ferry closures.

NNSL photo/graphic

Smoke billows off of the forest fire located 40 km west of Fort Simpson as seen from a boat on the Mackenzie River on June 3. - photo courtesy of Tanya Klassen

The fire, located approximately 40 km west of Fort Simpson along the highway to Wrigley, was reported on June 3.

At that point it covered 40 hectares, said Ella Stinson, a spokesperson with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

By the following day, the fire, which was started by a lightning strike, had grown to approximately 500 hectares. The fire is being fought with the goal of preventing it from spreading towards Fort Simpson, Stinson said.

Water bombers attacked the fire on Sunday and six fire crews, including four from the Deh Cho and two from the Sahtu, were working on the fire along with helicopters, as of Monday. There are few values at risk in the area. Stinson said there are a few cabins that the crews will try to protect.

The area where the fire is located hasn't had any forest fires for a number of years. The forest is thick and has a lot of spruce trees, said Stinson. The area is also dry and the fire is being fed by winds, she said.

"We have these conditions that are really dry out there," she said.

Because of its size and location, ENR expects to be working on the fire for two more weeks.

Based on information received from ENR, officials with the Department of Transportation made the decision to close Highway 1 from Fort Simpson to Wrigley and the Ndulee Ferry on Sunday afternoon, said Earl Blacklock, the manager of public affairs and communications with the department.

Both the road and the ferry were reopened on Tuesday morning.

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