- Written by Nadine Youssef
- BBC News, Toronto
Wildfires are affecting the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, where thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate.
Officials say the wildfire — which has already destroyed one remote community — could reach the city of Yellowknife by the end of the week.
Another fire threatens the Hay River community.
The Northwest Territories declared a state of emergency late Tuesday as it battles more than 200 wildfires.
High River Mayor Candace Jameson estimated that about 500 people remained in the community of about 3,500 people as of Tuesday despite an eviction notice issued by the city over the weekend.
The fire moved 30 kilometers in a few hours due to strong winds earlier this week, which closed the only two highways outside the city.
The route from the Hai River was “treacherous”, the mayor said, and supplies of food and petrol were running out in the town.
Telephone and internet services were also disrupted in the remote area.
The Canadian military has been coordinating airlifts from several communities in the southern slave region of the Northwest Territories that have been threatened by wildfires in recent days.
It is the largest air evacuation effort in the territory’s history.
Most of the evacuees have been brought south to the neighboring province of Alberta, with no indication of when they will be able to return home.
Yellowknife, a city of 20,000 people south of the Arctic Circle, declared a state of emergency on Monday.
Officials hope to avert wildfires in Yellowknife if it rains as expected in the next few days. The fire occurred 17 km northwest of the city as of Wednesday noon.
Fort Smith, K’atl’odeeche First Nation, Hay River, Enterprise and Jean Marie River are all under evacuation orders.
Enterprise, which is home to 120 people, is “90% gone” after a massive fire broke out this week, the community’s mayor told CBC Tuesday.
Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, with nearly 1,100 fires burning across the country as of Wednesday.
Experts pointed to a warmer and drier than usual spring as the reason.
Scientists say climate change is increasing the risk of hot, dry weather that has the potential to fuel wildfires.
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