All residents have left Kakisa in a voluntary evacuation away from the massive forest fire that is right beside the community. Winds have been blowing heavy smoke directly into town making it impossible for anyone to stay. The fire has moved to within one kilometre of the access road to the community and has jumped the Kakisa River. It is being managed by fire crews in order to protect infrastructure but is still deemed "out of control."
The voluntary evacuation recommendation was issued last Friday. The 13-km access road into the community, as well as the territorial park at nearby Lady Evelyn Falls on the Kakisa River and Sambaa Deh Territorial Park to the north, are all closed. As of Thursday noon, Highway 1 with access to Fort Simpson and Enterprise remained open, although closures due to lack of visibility from smoke are a possibility.
The 57,000-hectare fire threatening to engulf the community is being pounded by fire fighting resources. Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) department spokesperson Ella Stinson said crews from Alberta have been integrated into seven NWT fire teams and there are another four local fire crews. Fire breaks are being created around the community and burnouts are being executed to remove forest fuels near the community. She said aircraft are also attacking the fire.
One hundred thirty fires have been logged in the NWT to date in what is stacking up to be a very busy fire season. Conditions remain hot and dry in most of the NWT. Massive fires rim the north, east and southern side of Great Slave Lake. More and more fires are showing up in the Dehcho and Sahtu regions, including one just north of Norman Wells, but there is an old burn on its south flank as a buffer so it is not a threat to the community at this time.
Kakisa is the only community threatened by an NWT fire so far. The big Wood Buffalo National Park fire in Alberta that came within 30 km of Fort Smith not long ago continues to burn hot on its northwest side, away from the town, and is being actioned by park crews. Highway 3 between Fort Providence and Behchoko is closed, cutting southern access to Yellowknife and the Tli Cho communities with heavy smoke from fires on both sides, one burning close to it just south of the road. There are a number of cabins encroached by a big fire at Constellation Lake northeast of Yellowknife and the original Plummer’s lodge on the north shore of Great Slave Lake is being protected from a another massive fire. Buildings at Fort Reliance in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake are also being protected from a fire there. A fire threatened the Taltson Dam hydro facility east of Fort Smith, forcing South Slave communities onto diesel power for several days as a precaution, but that fire is being contained so far. Another larger fire to the north of it is threatening cabins and camps in the area of Tsu Lake.
So many cabins and buildings throughout the NWT are being protected from wildfires that ENR fire fighting crews are running out of sprinkler systems, but so far they have managed to save everything that has been threatened.