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Fort Good Hope wildfire has not yet reached community: officials

Click to play video: 'NWT wildfire: Rapidly growing wildfire threatens northern community of Fort Good Hope'
NWT wildfire: Rapidly growing wildfire threatens northern community of Fort Good Hope
WATCH: A human-caused wildfire is on the doorstep of Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories, after exploding in size from an abandoned campfire. Officials say the fire has grown to 200 hectares and now threatens the isolated community of Fort Good Hope. Nathaniel Dove reports on what is quickly becoming a very serious situation – Jun 16, 2024

The wildfire threatening Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories has not reached the community yet and officials say, for now, it appears the wind will push it away from buildings.

“I believe the community will be satisfied because the community will be able to go home at the end of the day (when the fire is extinguished),” Chief Collin Pierrot said during a press conference.

But he later said he didn’t know when that would happen.

“Everything is still up in the as to whether the wind will change direction and blow right back into the community and put the community back at threat right now,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Fort Good Hope fire: N.W.T. hopes for favourable wind conditions'
Fort Good Hope fire: N.W.T. hopes for favourable wind conditions

“We haven’t lost any houses, any buildings or any structures,” Pierrot added.

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Northwest Territories Fire information officer Frank McKay said the fire is still out of control and the weather isn’t helping.

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“We’re going to have a little bit of dry hot weather coming so it will probably increase the fire behaviour somewhat,” Frank McKay told reporters.

The fire ignited on Saturday when someone or some people abandoned a campfire four kilometres away from Fort Good Hope, officials believe, and it quickly grew and burned towards the community of 500.

McKay said it was currently 1,368 hectares and said three firefighting crews, eight small water bombers and four helicopters are battling the flames, along with larger air bombers when needed.

He also said the government needed to divert resources to another fire, also started by a campfire during extremely dry conditions, ignited near Norman Wells, a town about 160 km away where many Fort Good Hope evacuees are sheltering.

Speaking to Global News, Norman Wells mayor Frank Pope said residents saw smoke about 16 km away from town at about 4 p.m. MT on Sunday.

“The water bombers, they all got to work on it immediately. They beat the living crap out of it,” he said.

He also said they were expecting 75 Fort Good Hope residents and now have over 200.

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“All over town, people at home are cooking, baking, bringing stuff and we’re keeping everybody fed. I know that my freezer is now out of moose meat,” he said.

Officials said 225 people were evacuated to Normal Wells, 110 people are sheltering a fishing camp across the river from Fort Good Hope and 12 are in another small community.

118 people remained in Fort Good Hope to help firefighters keep the flames back, Pierrot said.

“There is still significant risk of wildfires starting and spreading,” territorial environment minister Jay Macdonald said.

Pierrot then said he hopes the territorial government supports Fort Good Hope, that help for the fire “will not be a repeat of past emergency incidents like COVID, where the community was promised support from the government and was left holding the bag and the bill.”

Macdonald did not respond.

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