Wildfire Bulletin #41
August 03, 2009 - 11:00 PM
Three New Fires in Watson Lake
Three new fires were discovered in the Watson Lake area Monday bringing the fire total for that district to 30. Patrol planes in the Watson Lake District spotted two fires at 11:30 a.m. today, and a third was reported just after 1:00 p.m. The first is an 800-hectare fire burning near the Upper Coal River; the second is 358 hectares in size and burns near the Upper Rock River. The third fire is estimated at 100 hectares and burns near the Yukon-N.W.T. border. All three fires burn in the Wildland Fire Management Wilderness Zone and no values are at risk.
“In addition to the new fires, a number of fires remain very active and continue to burn in the Yukon,” said Duty Officer Mike Sparks. “Watson Lake is currently the busiest district with19 fires presently burning and activity is ongoing in several other parts of the territory including Carmacks, Dawson, Teslin and Whitehorse.”
Of the 19 fires showing activity, 11 are being actively observed and one is being actioned. Full suppression is taking place on the McKinnon Lake fire, located on the Yukon – B.C. border, because of its close proximity to the Watson Lake community. The 76-hecatre fire was actioned by airtankers and ground crews this weekend, and crews continued their efforts Monday.
Other wildfires of note in the Watson Lake District include the Jack Pine complex, consisting of two fires, burning at Kilometre 58 of the Nahanni Range Road. It is 2,256 hectares in size. All values have been identified 5 kilometres north of the complex. The South Frances lake complex, a combination of three fires, is located 30 kilometres north of Tuchitua and is 5,506 hectares in size. Structural protection is planned for all values within a 20 kilometre vicinity north of the blaze. A sprinkler system is already in place on one value a kilometre to the south. The Liard River Complex, six fires combined to 19,265 hectares, burns near Allen Creek, also threatens values in the area. Finally, the Tuchitua complex, made up of five fires, has grown to a combined size of 10,101 hectares. The complex burns near the second Frances River Bridge, on the east side of Frances River., and has also jumped the Nahanni Range road. Structural protection is in place on the road and no values have been lost. The Nahanni Range Road remains closed to the fire activity.
A mining camp in the vicinity of the 2,600-hectare Tootsie River Fire, 15 kilometres south of Kilometre 1059 on the Alaska Highway, has also undergone structural protection.
The Robert Campbell Highway between Watson Lake Airport and Ross River remains open but poor visibility and fire activity may lead to delays and possible road closure. Fire Officials are working closely with R.C.M.P and highways staff to keep the highway open but safety is the priority.
Also of high priority to Wildland Fire Management Officials are the five fires burning in the Teslin District. Four of the fires burn south of Teslin Lake and have a combined estimated size of 3,745 hectares. A fifth fire is 406 hectares in size and burns on the east side of Quiet Lake. All fires show very active fire behaviour and are visible from the community. Three helicopters and numerous firefighters are at the Teslin fire base assessing the situation. Sprinkler Trailer units have already been deployed on values at risk and more are available for use if necessary.
“We are developing strategies to protect values in the area,” said Mike Sparks. “Because of the close proximity of some of these fires to the Teslin community, these fires are very important to us. Our officials are in hourly communication with the Teslin Community, R.C.M.P, and Highways staff to minimize any disruptions these fires might cause.”
Smoke may be an issue in the Teslin area, and those with respiratory issues are advised to stay indoors or relocate to Whitehorse.
Meanwhile, extreme fire conditions across the territory have led to growth on existing fires in the Dawson, Carmacks and Whitehorse fire districts resulting in very smoky conditions. This can be expected to continue Monday. Values potentially at threat from the fires are under structural protection, and the situation is being monitored closely by Wildland Fire Management.
In Carmacks, a number of fires continue to burn, the most notable being the Little Salmon Lake fire (CA-04) 65 kilometres east of Carmacks. It is now approximately 18,500 hectares in size. Values on the east side of Little Salmon Lake are under structural protection, and further protection is being assembled on other values in the fire’s vicinity. Four helicopters and 44 personnel are currently working the fire. Motorists traveling along the Robert Campbell Highway may encounter smoky conditions, delays and possible closures pending the fire’s behaviour. Officials are also closely monitoring the Buffalo Corrals fire and assessing the area for values at risk.
Increased fire activity on the Teslin River fire, 60 kilometres northeast of Whitehorse, has led to a smoky haze enveloping the city. Smoky conditions can be expected to continue depending on fire activity. Paddlers are advised to avoid the area.
A third airtanker group arrived in the territory from Alberta on Sunday. It joins other Outside resources from Alberta and the Northwest Territories. There are now over 140 total firefighters in the territory, and additional support may arrive later this week.
With conditions forecast to continue to be hot and dry across the territory, fire officials are urging the public to abide by the current open fire ban and limit their burning to barbeque and closed lid stoves, and even then to do so with extreme caution. The public is also asked to avoid backcountry travel if possible.
With the recent activity, there have now been 107 fires this season in the Yukon burning almost 153, 580 hectares of forest.
For Yukon Wildfire updates, call 1-800-826-4750
For Yukon Wildfire updates, call 1-800-826-4750