Fire threat fades

Graphic courtesy of GNWT  Fires near Hay River have abated since early last week when some residents of the Corridor were asked to leave their homes as the fire grew closer to the river.

Graphic courtesy of GNWT
Fires near Hay River have abated since early last week when some residents of the Corridor were asked to leave their homes as the fire grew closer to the river.

With a lot of effort and little rain, the forest fires that forced some residents of the Corridor to leave their homes last week have abated.

“We’ve have the good fortune of weather that has been really agreeable,” said fire chief Ross Potter on Saturday. “We’ve seen little action, there’s been moisture in the air and that really helps.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) has conducted backburning operations throughout the week across a distance of 13 km, from Enterprise almost to Paradise Gardens, to clear the land between the fire and the river to try to ensure it can’t get close to homes in the Corridor again. As of Saturday, however, Potter said those operations were largely over.

“ENR has gone above and beyond and done a ton of work here in the last few weeks,” he said. “They’ve been great about sharing information with us and keeping us updated on what they’re doing.”

Mayor Andrew Cassidy said there wasn’t much to update over the weekend, but did note that the smoke had cleared from Paradise Gardens, one of the areas evacuated early last week.

“We’ve had some rain, so that’s good, but the weather will dry things out again, so we’re remaining watchful,” he said.

Although no one would wish a repeat performance of last week’s events, Potter said it was nonetheless a good learning opportunity.

“There’s always learning to be done,” he said. “Out of these things comes all kinds of good things. We build partnerships between organizations and levels of government, we make connections, and we’ll be getting better at what we do and hopefully get stronger as a community.”

Potter did say that after a quick tour in a helicopter on Saturday, he was astonished at how many homes are not fire smart, a program that seeks to educate homeowners and communities about how to best prevent fires from spreading by clearing brush on their properties and the like.

“Maybe after this people will actually start listening to fire smarting,” said Potter. “Now is this time to learn from it.”

–Sarah Ladik