Multiple Yukon wildfires continue to spread, leading to air quality warnings

The Hunker Summit wildfire burning near Dawson City, Yukon on June 20, 2019. The fire has since grown to more than 7,500 hectares. Yukon Protective Services/Twitter

The wildfire situation in the Yukon is continuing to grow out of control, prompting air quality warnings and additional firefighting resources from B.C.

As of Saturday, 27 fires are burning within the territory, with many of them reaching thousands and even tens of thousands of hectares in size.

READ MORE: Yukon wildfire grows to 850 hectares, and it’s ‘responding minimally’ to firefighting

The most concerning fire of note is the Hunker Summit fire burning near Dawson City, which has now grown to more than 7,500 hectares.

The territory’s Protective Services said Friday that “fire activity challenged fire operations,” allowing it to spread to the east and the north.

The fire is not contained and is considered out of control.

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Protective Services says the fire is visible from the nearby Klondike Highway, but is not heading towards the road.

As of July 1, 10 initial-attack crews with helicopters and heavy equipment support are working to suppress the fire where possible and protect valuable areas.

Other fires within the territory are even larger.

READ MORE: Environment Canada: High likelihood of a warmer, drier summer than normal in B.C.

The current wildfire situation in the Yukon as of Saturday, July 6, 2019.
The current wildfire situation in the Yukon as of Saturday, July 6, 2019. Yukon Protective Services

The Pigue Creek wildfire, burning further southeast of the Hunker Summit fire, has grown to 44,000 hectares, and is moving parallel to the Klondike Highway, about six kilometres away.

Structural protection is being provided by an 18-person unit crew and four helicopters, officials said Monday.

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Other large fires burning in the Yukon include the 4,000-hectare Thistle Creek fire and the Toobally Lakes fire, which has grown past 14,000 hectares and is burning just north of the B.C. border.

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The fire danger rating sits at “extreme” for several areas, including Dawson, and at “high” for Carmacks and Willow Creek.

The capital of Whitehorse and some other areas sit at a “moderate.”

Environment Canada has shared an air quality advisory for nearly the entire territory from the Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health due to wildfire smoke.

READ MORE: 144 more B.C. crew members deployed to Alberta, Yukon to tackle wildfire threats

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That smoke also made its way into northern B.C. earlier this week, but no warnings are in place for those areas as of Saturday.

The BC Wildfire Service sent 23 additional firefighting personnel to the Yukon on June 19, following a deployment of seven crew members at the start of the month.

Current wildfire conditions in B.C. allows resources to be deployed to other provinces and territories, officials said.

Global News has reached out to Yukon wildfire officials for further information.

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