Firefighters battling blaze near Dawson City

Firefighters are battling a 75-hectare wildfire that was sparked on Sunday evening near Hunker Creek, 24 kilometres southeast of Dawson City.

Firefighters are battling a 75-hectare wildfire that was sparked on Sunday evening near Hunker Creek, 24 kilometres southeast of Dawson City.

The fire is the tenth and largest reported this season, and the first caused by lightning.

Fire information officer George Maratos said the fire was lit by a single lightning strike, which is unusual.

“It shows kind of just how dry it is,” he said.

The fire was reported at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, and firefighters responded immediately by helicopter. Eighteen firefighters, two helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment are now on the site.

A mining operation is located five kilometres away, but isn’t currently threatened.

Maratos said cooler temperatures and some rainfall are expected this week, which should help fight the flames.

The Hunker Creek fire is one of three incidents reported last weekend.

On Friday, firefighters put out a small fire near Hidden Valley school in Whitehorse. Maratos said the fire started after a campfire was lit in an unauthorized area and wasn’t extinguished properly.

“That could have been a very serious situation,” he said.

Another small fire was reported at an agricultural lot in the Pine Lake subdivision near Haines Junction on Saturday. Maratos called it a “holdover fire,” meaning it was lit earlier in the year, continued to smoulder through the winter and flared up as conditions got drier and windier.

Of the 10 wildfires reported so far this season, nine have been caused by humans.

Currently, several areas in the Yukon have an extreme fire danger rating, including Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Haines Junction, Carmacks and Ross River.

“The last five days really just pushed the danger rating up, because of how warm it was,” Maratos explained. But he said those ratings should come down again this week, as temperatures are expected to drop and some areas are predicting rainfall.

Maratos said the elevated fire danger ratings this season are “above average,” but not entirely unusual. Last year, he said, there were 90 wildfires by the end of May.

He said this type of weather early in the season could become the new normal.

“It’s possibly a sign of what we can expect to see going forward,” he said. “It’s changing quite a bit across the board.”

There are currently no campfire bans in place in the Yukon. However, open fires require burning permits from the City of Whitehorse within city limits, and from the Yukon government elsewhere. Permits are suspended when the fire danger rating is moderate, high or extreme.

Maratos said fires should be doused with water, stirred, and doused again before they can be deemed properly extinguished.

“Don’t just pour the water on it and walk away,” he said, adding that extinguished fires should be cold to the touch.

Wildfires should be reported immediately to 1-888-798-3473 (FIRE).

Contact Maura Forrest at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inside the courtroom in Whitehorse, Chief Electoral Officer Max Harvey, Vuntut Gwitchin returning officer Renee Charlie and Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Duncan open the box containing the names of the tied candidates. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Annie Blake elected as MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin after name draw

“I’m still feeling shocked that my name was drawn, I feel overwhelmed.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 case confirmed in rural Yukon community

An exposure notification has been issued for Andrea’s Restaurant in Watson Lake

Food trucks gather on Steele Street between Front and Second for the annual Street Eats Festival in Whitehorse on August 12, 2019. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News file)
May 1 could mark the start of the 2021 food truck season

Lottery for downtown sites set for April 28

Wyatt's World

Wyatt’s World for April 16, 2021.… Continue reading

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is taking on the first all-woman expedition to Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team among mountaineers heading to Kluane National Park

One team will be exploring Mt. Logan while a second all-woman team aims for Mt. Lucania summit

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/ Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Most Read