Fire warning to campers, canoeists and miners

There are currently 23 fires burning in the territory. Of highest concern are six active fires in the gold fields around Dawson City, said fire information officer George Maratos. "There's a lot of mining camps out there," he said. "It's a lot of work that's going on there to protect properties from some pretty large, active fires."

There are currently 23 fires burning in the territory.

Of highest concern are six active fires in the gold fields around Dawson City, said fire information officer George Maratos.

“There’s a lot of mining camps out there,” he said. “It’s a lot of work that’s going on there to protect properties from some pretty large, active fires.”

For example, dredge No. 10 and the numerous mining camps in the area, near Gold Run Creek, have been successfully protected from a fire that has grown to 2,290 hectares, or approximately 4,580 football fields.

At this point, no camps have been evacuated and, apart from the unpleasant working conditions because of all the smoke, mining activity has not been seriously affected, said Maratos.

The other major concern is a fire in the Carmacks area, which has grown to 12,380 hectares, or about the size of 24,760 football fields.

At about 72 kilometres east of Carmacks and roughly 20 kilometres downstream of the confluence of the Teslin and Yukon rivers, this fire is active and aggressive on both sides of the river, said Maratos.

“We’re advising travelers on the water not to do so in that area,” he said. “It’s dangerous, smoky.”

A protection plan made up of large sprinkler kits, among other things, has protected the S.S. Evelyn historical site, which is in the region. There are no current concerns for the community of Carmacks, he said.

Another aggressive, 5,400-hectare fire in the Carmacks area is on the northeast side of Frenchman Lake. Because of the smoke, crews haven’t been able to measure how far it is from nearby campgrounds but the Frenchman Lake, Nunatuk and Tatchun Lake campgrounds have all been closed because of it.

“They just did that as a precautionary measure,” he said. “But we have a lot of campgrounds in the territory, best to choose somewhere else.”

More than anything, because of the high amount of smoke and effects to water travel, these fires are impacting many people, said Maratos.

Twenty-four BC firefighters have been called up to the territory, with six stationed at Dawson, Mayo, Carmacks and in Whitehorse. BC hasn’t seen too much activity so far this season, which is unusual, so they have been available to help out in the Yukon and Alaska.

Despite the size of these fires, things are under-control, said Maratos, explaining the recent, and predicted, cooler temperatures are helping.

But all the resources available are being put towards these lightening-started fires, and fire management would like to keep it that way.

“The last thing we want to do is take those resources and go fight a fire that’s in a community and was human-cased,” said Maratos. “We’re pretty lucky, most people have common sense and we ask that that continues.”

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway remains closed near the BC border.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com