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

Just Posted

Remembering Capt. Dick Stevenson, the inventor of the sourtoe cocktail

The Captain, who created the drink that in turn created countless honourary… Continue reading

YG releases ‘ambitious’ plan to combat climate change

It calls for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030

CPAWS Yukon ‘disappointed’ controversial writer to give keynote at Yukon Geoscience Forum

Vivian Krause is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the forum on Nov. 16.

PSAC president speaks out about Queen’s Printer, Central Stores situation

‘It’s not good for the Yukon. It’s not good for the taxpayers of the Yukon.’

Whitehorse biathlete Nadia Moser earns IBU World Cup spot on Canadian team

Whitehorse’s Nadia Moser will begin the biathlon season at the IBU World… Continue reading

Whitehorse Glacier Bears host swimmers from Inuvik and B.C. at Ryan Downing Memorial Invitational Swim Meet

“Everyone had a good time – it was amazing. It was a really great meet.”

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Nov. 12 Whitehorse council meeting

Driving with Jens: Yielding is at the heart of defensive driving

If you’re like most people, you probably think about whether you have right-of-way, not yielding

Today’s mailbox: Remembrance Day, highway work

Letters to the editor published Nov. 13

F.H. Collins Warriors beat Vanier Crusaders in Super Volley boys volleyball final

“As long as we can control their big plays to a minimum, we’ll be successful”

Yukonomist: The squirrel, the husky and the rope

The squirrel is political popularity.

Most Read