The status of the 1,546-hectare wildfire burning in the Yukon’s Ibex Valley northwest of Whitehorse has been changed from “out of control” to “being held,” but there’s still work to be done before it is considered “under control,” according to the latest fire bulletin.
The bulletin put out by Yukon Wildland Fire Management at 8 p.m. on July 16 indicates that means the fire, known as the Takhini Bridge fire, is expected to stay within control lines given the current conditions and resources.
Yukon Wildland Fire Management took reporters on a tour inside the fire guard on July 14.
“We still have a lot of hard days ahead of us,” incident commander Mark Hill told reporters.
“It’s still a notable fire partly due to the proximity to Whitehorse. It’s close to the community here.”
VIDEO: Inside the Takhini Bridge fire guard
Hill said crews will be using a combination of hand ignition and hand tools, putting in the now-25-kilometre dozer guard that wraps the fire and using pumps and hoses to bring the fire to the edge, then put it out.
“There’s going to be heat in the middle of the fire, but what we’re interested in is the edge. It’s the edge that’s going to cause us the most issues for now,” he said.
“What you do is you try to remove all the fuel — any combustible fuel — in front of the line of the fire to stop that fire.”
Hill said the immediate goal is to contain the fire.
“Success looks like the entire edge of this fire is quiet. We’ll have people on this fire for the coming weeks until we feel comfortable that the fire is completely secure and no threat to the public, infrastructure or values.”
Close to three dozen firefighters, an incident management team, heavy equipment and helicopters continued to battle the fire on July 16. Twenty firefighters arrived from Nova Scotia’s Forestry and Natural Resources department for their 14-day shift. The crew will be posted at Hidden Valley Elementary School for camping and eating meals.
An evacuation alert, which is not mandatory and is intended to give people time to prepare in the case of an evacuation order, was issued July 8 by the Yukon Emergency Measures Organization for parts of the Ibex Valley east of the Takhini River. The evacuation alert has been rescinded as of 4 p.m., according to a bulletin issued late on the afternoon of July 17.
A “level 2” fire ban has been issued due to the high fire load and dry conditions in the Whitehorse, Teslin, Watson Lake, Carmacks, Ross River and Mayo fire management districts. That means campfires are only permitted in approved pits at campgrounds accessible by road in the affected areas.
Twenty wildfires are burning across the territory, including two other “notable” fires. North of Whitehorse, the Illusion Creek fire, which is about 23,000 hectares, is being monitored for potential social disruption and other major impacts as it fills its “natural ecological role.” That’s also the case for the 3,690-hectare Reverse Creek fire in the Mayo fire district.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org