What you need to know about the NWT wildfires:
- Evacuation orders issued for Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Fort Smith, Enterprise, Jean Marie River communities
- Evacuation orders issued for cabin and homeowners in North Prosperous Lake, North Prelude Lake, all of River Lake and Highway 3 from miles 184 and 320
- Yellowknife City Council Declares Local State of Emergency; the city is not under warning, alert, or evacuation order
- Highway 1 is closed from the Alberta border to kilometer 140, Highway 2 is closed, Highway 3 is closed between Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife, Highway 5 is closed, and the access road to the Jean Marie River is closed
- Telephone and Internet Disrupted in the South Slave Region; it will be at least 24 hours before communities are back online, NorthwestTel says
- First responders withdrew from Fort Smith; move to a safer place
- The Canadian Armed Forces sends 124 soldiers to assist in the response to the territory’s bushfires, which are expected to arrive on Wednesday.
Michael St Amour’s Tuesday started out like most people’s: breakfast and shower, but the rest of the day is far from normal.
“Start calling people and telling them if they have a house or not. That’s my day today,” said St Amour, mayor of Enterprise, NWT.
While he has yet to return to the community and see the damage for himself, he says he has been told there is little left.
“I think there are seven or eight houses and three or four businesses left,” he said. “85 to 90 percent of the community has left.”
On Sunday, most communities in the South Slave region were ordered to evacuate due to multiple wildfires that directly threatened the communities or threatened to close roads connecting them to the rest of the territory.
Enterprise, Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Fort Smith, Salt River First Nation and Jean Marie River are under evacuation orders. Kakisa remains under evacuation alert.
The fire that burned Enterprise was initially closer to Kakisa. However, strong winds on Sunday pushed the fire nearly 25 miles east, eventually reaching Highway 2.
“[Fire] SS052 has engulfed Enterprise – crews are currently assessing the extent of structure loss,” the territory read. wildfire update web page.
The territorial government has also updated its public safety website with information for evacuees from the South Slave region.
Evacuees who ended up in Yellowknife and need accommodations can call 867-444-0618.
Like St Amour, many residents have taken refuge in the High Level or Grande Prairie, Alta. since evacuation, some driving almost through fire.
With continued communications disruption across much of the southern Northwest Territories, sharing information has been difficult.
St Amour says the residents he managed to speak to are concerned as information leaks out, especially through social media.
“Some of this is very negative and I wish people would stop posting things,” he said.
“People are driving through Enterprise and taking pictures of things before I have a chance to tell people the bad news or the good news,” he added. “It really builds the tension.”
St Amour has also seen videos and photos of the remains of their community.
“It’s really heartbreaking,” he said.
St Amour said the community council will have a special meeting on Tuesday morning and will begin communicating with residents about next steps.
The mayor is urging residents to be patient.
“We are going to rebuild and we are going to be there stronger.”