Capstone to move employees back to Minto

Capstone employees will return to the Minto mine today. Although the fire burns only six kilometres from the site, conditions are safe enough to continue operations, according to Capstone's website.

Capstone employees will return to the Minto mine today.

Although the fire burns only six kilometres from the site, conditions are safe enough to continue operations, according to Capstone’s website.

Last week, as a dense haze of woodsmoke blanketed the site, the company evacuated 40 employees with respiratory problems. An additional 70 workers – including administrative staff and milling operators – were removed from the area on Monday.

Capstone president Stephen Quin would not comment on how much money the company is losing by suspending operations.

Instead, he commended firefighters.

“Yukon Wildland Fire Management guys are doing a good job and keeping us well informed and liaising with us,” Quin said. “It’s an example of an agency working well.”

Fire officials figured out ways to protect the mine earlier this week through a “burning-out procedure,” said George Maratos, fire information officer.

“It will create a guard and remove fuels in the area in order to prevent the fire from burning with any intensity near the mine.”

Although the plan protects the mine, the remaining workers and firefighters are the primary concern.

“Our top priority is always the safety of the personnel and public,” said Maratos. “An evacuation is put in not necessarily for a mine only, but for a community.”

Fire officials also implemented structural protection around the Fort Selkirk historic site, about 18 kilometres northwest of the fire.

It’s possible the fire won’t reach the site, but the plan is a precautionary measure, said Maratos.

Monday, fire officials met with the Selkirk First Nation to update it on the current situation.

Cooler temperatures and precipitation have allowed the fire ban to be removed across the territory, said Maratos on Friday.

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at larissaj@yukon-news.com.