Rain eases forest fire risks

Yukon wildfire officials welcomed rainy conditions on Wednesday as the territory continues to face a very active fire season.

Yukon wildfire officials welcomed rainy conditions on Wednesday as the territory continues to face a very active fire season.

“It’s definitely nice to see some precipitation for sure,” said George Maratos, spokesperson for Yukon Wildland Fire Management.

It wasn’t enough to significantly slow down fires though, as that would have required several consecutive days of rain, said Maratos, but it made fire danger ratings drop in most communities.

It was back to business Thursday when Wildland firefighters dispatched five helicopters and two air tankers to a fire 11 kilometres northeast of Dawson City and quickly contained it.

The fire was not completely put out and crews will continue to work on it today.

On Wednesday, they had already quickly contained two lightning-started fires near Mayo, 20 kilometres south of Stewart Crossing.

Crews are also putting in sprinklers and clearing brush around the Eagles Plains lodge, as a 1,000-hectare fire is burning about five kilometres from there.

Burning permits are still suspended throughout the territory and campfires are only allowed outside of Whitehorse and Dawson City limits.

Parks Canada lifted its campfire ban on Kluane Park on Thursday. Fires are again permitted in designated fire pits or through a permit delivered by park officials.

There were still more than 55 active fires in the Yukon as of Friday morning.

Efforts to urge the public to check fire danger conditions and to burn responsibly seem to be working, said Maratos.

He got a “pleasant surprise” on Thursday, from a future high-school graduate.

“He called me and asked me what the conditions were – they were planning to have a bush party,” said Maratos.

“For him to actually call me, I was quite impressed,” he said.

With graduations coming up at Whitehorse high schools, Wildland firefighters will patrol to check for large fires.

Fires are only allowed to be used for cooking and warmth outside of Whitehorse city limits.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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