Yukon wildland firefighters were kept busy over the weekend as more than 30 fires burned across the territory, including one near Beaver Creek that triggered a campground evacuation and temporary shutdown of the Alaska Highway.
The Snag Junction campground fire, last estimated at 614 hectares in size, was discovered July 6 burning parallel to the Alaska Highway. The fire is believed to have been sparked by lightning, fire information officer Mike Fancie said July 8, and is currently moving away from the highway and Beaver Creek towards the White River.
However, it caused a six-hour-long shutdown of the Alaska Highway at Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay following its discovery, and campers at Snag were advised to leave when the blaze came within four kilometres of the campground.
The Snag Junction campground has since been closed due to the proximity of the fire, Parks Yukon announced the morning of July 8.
Wildland crews as well as the Whitehorse Fire Department also responded to a small fire on Grey Mountain in Whitehorse late in the evening on July 7. The fire, which grew to 0.01 hectares before being brought under control via the dropping of retardant and helicopter bucketing, was caused by a structure fire, the cause of which remains under investigation.
As well, crews are continuing to work on two wildfires in the Dawson Goldfields area — the Pigue Creek and Hunker Summit fires, last estimated to be about 70,000 hectares and 10,000 hectares in size, respectively. Fancie said firefighters have been taking preventative measures, including firesmarting, setting up sprinkler kits and blacklining — basically, burning off nearby fuel sources before the main fire can get to them — to protect structures, including homes, cabins and placer mining sites, that might be “potentially threatened” by the fires.
Fancie added that with the hot and dry weather, it’s crucial that Yukoners be safe and smart around fire to ensure that no new human-caused fires are started — for example, ensuring that your campfire is never left unattended and is fully put out before you leave.
As of the morning of July 8, the majority of the territory remained under an air quality advisory as the smoke from local fires, as well as ones in Alaska, lingers in the air.
Kluane National Park and Reserve also issued a fire ban, effective immediately, the just after 11 a.m. on July 8, citing an extreme fire hazard in the area.
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