Where there’s fire, there’s smoke

Whitehorse skies have taken on a Mexico City tint thanks to wildfires throughout Alaska and the southern Yukon. "Smoke," read Wednesday's Environment Canada weather forecast for Whitehorse -- alongside a graphic of a campfire.

Whitehorse skies have taken on a Mexico City tint thanks to wildfires throughout Alaska and the southern Yukon.

“Smoke,” read Wednesday’s Environment Canada weather forecast for Whitehorse—alongside a graphic of a campfire.

“This is the busiest year we’ve had since 2004,” said fire information officer George Maratos.

Sixty-five kilometres east of Carmacks, fires have burned 4,015 hectares, equal to one-tenth of Whitehorse city limits.

Far from any buildings or property, the fire is being left to run its course, although sprinkler crews have been dispatched to protect cabins in the area.

The fire is currently three kilometres from the Robert Campbell Highway. If it gets any closer, fire crews will take action.

Drivers on that highway are being told to expect closures.

As it is, motorists can expect “poor visibility due to smoke,” reported fire officials.

A 1,500-hectare fire (half the size of Dawson City) continues to burn just outside Whitehorse. It also poses no risk to human settlements.

A 31,000-hectare fire is also burning in a wilderness zone outside Dawson City.

Yesterday, high winds, hot, dry conditions and lightning all combined to create a “big day” for forest fires, said Maratos.

“We’re expecting four to 10 new starts,” he said.

In anticipation, 25 firefighters were brought up from BC, along with an additional airtanker group.

Match-toting knuckleheads have been causing headaches for wildland fire officials.

Yesterday, three human-caused fires were started within Whitehorse city limits, including one that resulted from an abandoned car being set on fire.

Improperly extinguished campfires at Lake Laberge and the Takhini Hotsprings Road were also to blame.

With lightning stiking across the tinder dry territory, wildland firefighters shouldn’t be having to extinguish “preventable human-caused fires,” said Yukon duty officer Mike Sparks.

Contact Tristin Hopper at tristinh@yukon-news.com

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