The NWT government will not offer financial support to evacuees who found their own accommodation, nor does it intend to help cover the travel costs of people who left in their own vehicles, says a spokesman for the territorial government.
People who relied on NWT evacuation flights will have assistance returning when the order is lifted, Jennifer Young, director of corporate affairs for the territory’s municipal and community affairs department, said during a wildfire update Monday night. .
“If he evacuated on his own, the expectation will be that he’ll re-enter on his own,” Young said.
Instead, residents should research their insurance policies to help cover the costs, he said.
About 68 percent of NWT residents have been evacuated due to the wildfires, Young added during Monday’s update.
A wildfire that burned about 15 kilometers northwest of Yellowknife prompted the evacuation of about 20,000 people from the NWT capital as of late last week.
The nearby Dene communities of Dettah and Ndilǫ were also evacuated, as were residences along the Ingraham Trail. Other Northwest Territories communities under evacuation orders include Jean Marie River, Kakiska, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Hay River, Enterprise and Fort Smith.
Lighter winds, rain and firefighting tactics over the weekend helped keep the fire from moving into Yellowknife. It was forecast to travel up to four kilometers closer to the city; instead, it only moved 100 to 200 meters, according to fire officials.
Mike Westwick, NWT’s fire information officer, said crews are looking for weeks of work before most people can go home, but that depends on many factors, especially the weather.
The rain that fell in the Yellowknife area over the past 72 hours helped reduce fire activity and gave firefighters an opportunity to better assess the situation.
But he said that the rain is not enough to end the threat to the city, he said that there would have to be around 60 millimeters in a span of 10 days of rain.
For context, there has only been about 10 millimeters in the last few days and the forecast looks dry for the next few days.
Westwick said the biggest concern for fire crews is the wildfire burning about four miles from Fort Smith, NWT.
He said they expect challenging winds that could push the fire back into the community.
Westwick said crews have been working on a control line and structural protection.
The Hay River fire remains eight kilometers from the community, 10 kilometers from the K’atl’odeeche First Nation and 14 kilometers from Kakisa.
“We are concerned about the weather ahead in the next few days,” Westwick said of the fire near those communities.
But he said he’s happy with the protections that have been put in place in recent days, including dozer lines and sprinklers.
“They’re going to stay upright and continue to do that job and stay safe,” he said of the crews on the ground.
The territorial government has made the following links available to residents: