‘Crisis Situation’: Canadian Fire Nears Biggest City in Northwest Territories

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Residents of Yellowknife outskirts ordered to leave with wildfire just 10 miles away

A raging wildfire in northern Canada is inching closer to the biggest city in the Northwest Territories.

Local authorities on Tuesday night declared a territory-wide state of emergency and an evacuation order for the outskirts of Yellowknife, with the blaze just 10 miles (16km) away.

Residents were ordered to leave a 22-mile stretch of Highway 3, one of the main roads in and out of the city.

“We find ourselves in a crisis situation and our government is using every tool available to assist,” said Shane Thompson, the territory’s minister of environment and climate change.

The city of 20,000 people is on high alert as authorities warned of the possibility of a larger evacuation order.

Five other communities in the territory have been told to evacuate, while a number of others are on alert.

The town of Enterprise has been 90% destroyed, while the nearby community of Hay River is “running out of time” to evacuate, said mayor Kandis Jameson on Tuesday.

A family escaping from Hay River said their car began melting around them as they drove away after an evacuation order was issued on Sunday. “It was honestly insane. When I got out of our vehicle in Enterprise, I just cried,” she told CBC.

Falling ash and visible smoke are likely in Yellowknife as the 163,000-hectare (402,000-acre) fire spreads.

Some people had to be airlifted to safety. One man told a CBC radio reporter that he was sent to an evacuation centre more than 600 miles from home, in northern Alberta. “They’re dispersing us all over the place,” he said.

Yellowknife is roughly 250 miles south of the edge of the Arctic Circle.

This summer alone, Northwest Territories has seen more than 2m hectares burned – a figure that is set to increase, with 236 wildfires currently active across the territory.

July saw the hottest day ever recorded in the far north of the country when Fort Good Hope – a community about 500 miles north-west of Yellowknife – hit 37.4C.

Source : The Guardian