Flames from a forest fire can be seen in a photo shared on social media by Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn. (Richard Mostyn/Facebook)

Flames from a forest fire can be seen in a photo shared on social media by Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn. (Richard Mostyn/Facebook)

B.C. firefighters squad up as wildfires ‘rage on’ across Yukon

Minister says crews from British Columbia arriving this week and weekend to fight fires

Firefighters from British Columbia have descended on the Yukon to assist with wildfires raging across the territory.

In a Facebook post on July 7, Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn said a number of B.C. crews have come up to the territory to support the fire situation and a 100-person fire camp was expected to arrive that day.

Mostyn said initial attack crews are dispersing across the territory, with another 50-person fire camp anticipated over the weekend.

His post indicates four tactical evacuations have taken place in the Frances Lake campground area, the Ethel Lake campground area, a group of cabins near Keno and in the Rancheria area. Places to stay are being set up in Dawson City and in Whitehorse for those who leave their homes due to fires.

The Frances Lake fire spits up smoke into the sky. (Yukon Protective Services/Facebook)

The Frances Lake fire spits up smoke into the sky. (Yukon Protective Services/Facebook)

Porter Creek Secondary School has been turned into a lodging site for inbound firefighters and other potential out-of-territory personnel, Mostyn said.

He said clean air shelters have been organized for Old Crow, Beaver Creek and Mayo, with more shelters to come as needed.

Environment Canada has issued air quality and special weather statements concerning wildfire smoke and above seasonal temperatures for the central and northern parts of the territory

In a Facebook post on July 7, the Yukon’s department of Health and Social Services said the first clients stayed at the evacuation site in the flexihall at the Canada Games Centre on Tuesday. A photo shows dozens of empty cots lining the hall.

“We know this is not a five-star hotel, but it is a safe place for people who are affected by our ongoing fire situation,” reads the post.

“If you are under evacuation alert or have been displaced due to wildfires, phone 867-332-7367 for support.”

In an email on July 8, a government spokesperson said the first clients were stranded due to road closures and had no alternative place to stay. There is no one staying at the centre right now and the number of clients is subject to change based on the circumstances. Evacuation plans will depend on road closues and difficulties flying, for example.

As of July 7, the spokesperson said, most people who had registered with emergency social services had not left their communities. Seven people from their list had left from Mayo.

The Yukon has 144 active fires as of July 7.

Yukon First Nations Wildfire noted the fires continue to “rage on” in a Facebook post that accompanies a video displaying bright orange flames throwing up smoke while torching the forest.

More than two dozen firefighters and heavy equipment are battling an out-of-control fire in the Mayo region that has prompted a highway closure and evacuation alerts, according to the latest Wildland Fire update.

In the online update, the Crystal Lake fire has grown to 6,000 hectares as of July 7.

The “unpredictable, dangerous fire behaviour” has forced the closure of the North Klondike Highway between Stewart Crossing and Pelly Crossing, according to the website. Pilot vehicles are guiding vehicles between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when safe and under specialist supervision.

Dashcam video taken during a pilot trip between Stewart Crossing and Pelly Crossing shows smoke lining the highway.

A power pole that was burned by fire has been replaced, according to the July 7 fire activity report.

Evacuation alerts continue to be in effect for Stewart Crossing as well as Silver Trail and surrounding areas including Mayo, Keno, Victoria Gold Mine, Elsa and Moose Creek Lodge due to the fire situation.

The Cap Mountain fire near Grey Mountain in the Whitehorse area is being held at eight hectares by seven firefighters.

Four firefighters, two pieces of heavy equipment, a helicopter and an officer are taking on the 3,600-hectare Snag Creek fire located 10 kilometres northeast of Beaver Creek. Structure protection is being put up at sites near the fire, which is considered out of control.

The Robert Campbell Highway remains closed between Ross River and Watson Lake as a result of the 1,000 hectare Finlayson Lake fire.

Another uncontrolled fire burning along the Robert Campbell Highway has shut down the Frances Lake campground. Six firefighters are assigned to the 1,500-hectare fire.

At 711 hectares in size, the Rancheria Mountain fire is also burning out of control. Smoke may be seen from the Alaska Highway as the fire is located three kilometres from the road.

In the fire report, cabins along the shorelines are being protected from the 500-hectare Hansen Lake fires.

A level two fire ban remains in effect in the Yukon.

Contact Dana Hatherly at dana.hatherly@yukon-news.com