A substantial wildfire, currently ablaze near Hay River in the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.), is poised to advance up to 20 kilometres to the east on Friday, driven by powerful south and west winds, according to N.W.T. Fire.
In a recent update on Thursday evening, the wildfire agency expressed concerns about the “potential” for the fire’s progression along Highway 5 towards its convergence with Highway 6. This specific section of the highway has already been closed due to the wildfire’s relentless spread, which has already crossed not only Highway 5 but also Highway 2 at multiple locations.
Additionally, N.W.T. Fire reported receiving information about civilians who had returned to Hay River on Thursday and issued an urgent plea for them to evacuate, emphasizing that “the town is not safe — and it is especially unsafe for the next 48 hours.”
While the territorial wildfire agency noted significant progress made on Thursday, with the heavy smoke gradually clearing in the afternoon, allowing flights to operate, it has consistently warned that the situation is anticipated to escalate on Friday.
The forecasted strong winds, with gusts reaching speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour during the day, pose a significant risk, potentially leading to extreme fire behavior, the dispersal of flying embers capable of sparking spot fires, and the encroachment of flames on neighborhoods within the town and its surrounding areas.
In response, the wildfire agency plans to deploy air tankers and helicopters as soon as visibility conditions permit, aiming to mitigate the fire’s intensity and its rate of expansion. N.W.T. Fire assured that structural firefighters have a robust strategy in place to combat the fire should it approach the town.