The rain that Fort Smith experienced over the long weekend served to not only sate the hunger of the wild fires in the town’s immediate area, but also to sooth those of the community who lived with the stress of possible evacuation for an extended time.
Fort Smith was at the highest level of emergency alert all last week. The town made the national news with a story that it was preparing to evacuate. Warning bulletins came from town hall daily.
People showed up at the Recreation Centre with their bags packed ready to evacuate.
But predictions of dry lightning storms and more drought did not pan out. Then the rains came.
Conditions in the area were critical all last week. The extreme drought conditions helped to ensure that the fires surrounding many northern communities ate heartily.
“We were in serious conditions last week,” said Frank Lepine, Manager of Fire Operations for NWT government. “We had serious problems with the fires we were dealing with.”
“We had to pull off of one fire, because of the danger to our fire fighters.”
“The rain has helped us quite a bit, for the next week or so,” said Lepine. “We should have another week of grace, but the rain hasn’t affected the long term drought.”
Despite the rain, it is still mid fire season and we are not in the clear yet Lepine told The Journal.
“As the nights get longer and the dew starts forming, things will get easier to handle,” said Lepine.