August 17, 2023

CANADA: Emergency Evacuation Of 20,000 People In The Country’s Northwest City Yellowknife As 260 Out Of Control Wildfires Rapidly Engulf The Region. Buses And Airplanes Will Be Provided.

Sky News Australia August 16, 2023: Canadian officials begin mass evacuation as wildfires engulf northwest region. Canadian officials have begun the evacuation of 20,000 people in the country’s northwest as wildfires rapidly engulf the region. Evacuations have been ordered for Yellowknife and the surrounding communities of Dettah, as well as residents along the Ingraham Trail. The country’s military has been called in to assist with helicopters and planes being brought in to evacuate civilians. Buses are also being made available for those who need assistance to leave. This is the latest emergency situation to evolve out of what is Canada’s worst fire season on record.
CP24 published August 17, 2023: Mayor of Yellowknife on the current evacuations. All residents of Yellowknife have been ordered to leave as wildfires quickly approach the city. CP24's Jamie Gutfreund talked to the mayor of Yellowknife, Rebecca Alty, about the fire situation.
CBC News: The Natiional published August 17, 2023 N.W.T. officials order evacuation of Yellowknife as wildfires approach. Officials in the Northwest Territories have ordered everyone out of Yellowknife by noon Friday as a dangerous wildfire approaches. While the city is not in immediate danger, Environment Minister Shane Thompson says the 'phased evacuation' will allow citizens to get out safely by car or by plane. Access low-bandwidth coverage of the wildfires here:

CBC News, Canada local
written by Sara Minogue
Wednesday August 16, 2023

Yellowknife residents have been ordered to begin evacuating the city immediately as wildfires approach, N.W.T. officials said Wednesday evening.

While the city is not in immediate danger, Environment Minister Shane Thompson said a "phased approach" to evacuating will allow citizens to get out safely by car or by plane.

The evacuation order says residents should leave "according to risk." People living along Ingraham Trail, in Dettah, and the Kam Lake, Grace Lake and the Engle business district in Yellowknife are considered at highest risk and are urged to leave as soon as possible.

Other residents of Yellowknife and Ndilo should leave by noon Friday.

"The fire now represents a real threat to the city," Thompson said at a news conference Wednesday evening, adding it could reach the outskirts of the city by the weekend. The fire was about 17 kilometres from the city on Wednesday, he said.

Fire information officer Mike Westwick said fire could reach the Ingraham trail by Friday.

The extraordinary evacuation order affects nearly 22,000 people.

It comes after days of reassurance from the city's mayor, Rebecca Alty, that there was no immediate danger or need for the city to share details of its evacuation planning, and well after many people began to leave and businesses and other operations, including city recreation facilities and the dump, began to close.

Highway safe to drive

Thompson said Wednesday that the highway from Yellowknife to Alberta is safe to drive. People are being urged to fill up their vehicles before leaving Yellowknife, but he said the Department of Infrastructure will have a tanker full of gas along the route, and tow trucks will also be out in force.

"At Big River [Service Centre], they have informed us they have a lot of gas available and they will have other gas brought in Friday," said Thompson.

Pilot vehicles will also be on the highway to escort evacuees through smoky areas in the fire zone.

"The window of opportunity right now is going to allow us to evacuate everybody safely," Thompson said, adding, "we need you to do it now," because the fire threatens both air and road access.

No evacuation reception centres have been established yet. People with family or friends are encouraged to make use of the resources available to them.

Travellers can find the latest highway updates on the N.W.T. government's Facebook page, as the highway conditions website has been experiencing technical difficulties.

Those without vehicles were urged to present themselves at the Multiplex in Yellowknife, where the city intends to establish a reception centre for those fleeing the Ingraham Trail and Dettah.

Air evacuations to begin Thursday

People who cannot leave by road, and residents who are immunocompromised or have other conditions that put them at higher risk, are asked to register for evacuation flights. Air evacuations are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Air evacuees are being advised to go to Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife, with standard carry-on baggage only, after 10 a.m. Thursday. Pets will be allowed on commercial carriers, but must be crated. On military aircraft, pets should be crated if possible.

A flight schedule is being developed and will be posted to the territorial government's public safety page later Wednesday night.

Evacuees are urged to not leave by boat to a cabin or island on Great Slave Lake.

Thompson also said plans were in the works to help people experiencing homelessness.

The minister reiterated that despite the incredible fire conditions and the number of evacuees from multiple N.W.T. communities, no fatalities have been reported due to fire, with the exception of firefighter Adam Yeadon.

Premier Caroline Cochrane ended Wednesday's news briefing by once again calling the situation unprecedented.

"There's no other way to describe it," she said.

Yellowknife and surrounding communities now join Fort Smith, Hay River, the Kรกtล‚'odeeche First Nation, Enterprise and Jean Marie River — all N.W.T. communities which have seen residents displaced due to out of control fires.

Cochrane also reiterated her plea for everyone who can leave to do so immediately.

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