B.C., Yukon dealing with busy fire season

Yukon Wildland Fire Management and volunteer firefighters from Carcross and Mount Lorne's swift response helped quickly contain a wildfire 1.5 km north of Emerald lake, near Carcross, on Tuesday afternoon.

Yukon Wildland Fire Management and volunteer firefighters from Carcross and Mount Lorne’s swift response helped quickly contain a wildfire 1.5 km north of Emerald lake, near Carcross, on Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was caused by a tree that fell on a power line. Two helicopters were also dispatched to contain the fire to its initial 0.3 hectares size.

Firefighters have also been kept busy with three fires outside of Watson Lake, including a 50-hectare one that was started by lightning on Monday, about 138 kilometres north of the community.

Firefighters couldn’t initially intervene as there were “large flames shooting up in the sky,” said George Maratos, spokesperson for the Yukon Wildland Fire Management.

Eventually they were able to lay down retardant, he said.

The fire 30 kilometres east of Lake Laberge has reached an estimated size of 4,127 hectares. It is still in the wilderness zone, well away from residential neighourhoods and roads, so it won’t be doused for now. Crews on the ground are putting sprinkler systems around properties in the area.

Both fires close to the Scroggie Creek mining camp and the Casino mine site did not move towards the camps.

“They’ve done a good job of preventing the spreading of those fire,” said Maratos of the firefighters.

Meanwhile in British Columbia, the fire southeast of Atlin on the Inklin river is still burning.

Lightning over the weekend caused more fires, including two near Atlin: a 68-hectare fire on the King Salmon river basin, 14 kilometres west of the first Inklin river fire and a 3,000-hectare fire in the Nikina river area, 70 kilometres southeast of Atlin.

Not far from the Yukon border, lightning also started a fire 65 kilometres south of Watson Lake in the Ne’ah conservancy.

Only Alaska has had a relatively calm fire season so far.

“The situation in Alaska is pretty quiet considering the high fire danger we’ve had,” said Tim Mowry, spokesperson of the forestry division of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Contrary to B.C. and the Yukon, most fire starts in Alaska have been human-caused, said Mowry.

He said that when the Yukon put out a call for reinforcements last week as 10 new fires were starting daily, the state couldn’t reciprocate due to the high fire danger.

Yukon residents should expect “smoky conditions” said Maratos, especially around Dawson City, Carmacks, Watson Lake and possibly Whitehorse.

Officials are also asking paddlers to avoid some of the areas affected by the fire. “We’re asking right now not to paddle the Teslin River in the confluence next to Open Creek because of the active fire,” said Maratos.

There are now 52 fires active across the Yukon. Fire officials are asking residents not to burn and to report any fire activity to 1-888-798-FIRE (3473). A map of active fires is available on the Yukon Wildland Management Branch’s website, at community.gov.yk.ca/firemanagement.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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