Wildfire spreads outside Watson Lake

Yukon Wildland Firefighters are currently fighting three priority fires in the territory, including one 70 kilometres east of Watson Lake. What began as a five-hectare fire grew in six hours to over a thousand hectares.

Yukon Wildland Firefighters are currently fighting three priority fires in the territory, including one 70 kilometres east of Watson Lake.

What began as a five-hectare fire grew in six hours to over a thousand hectares. For reference, one hectare is the size of two football fields.

The fire hasn’t been contained and is estimated at 1,500 hectares according to fire officials.

Firefighters are ready to put sprinklers on the nearby Contact and Iron Creek lodges in case the fire comes closer. It’s currently 20 km away from the lodges.

Two cabins closer to the fire have been readied, and the owners were notified, fire officials said.

While the fire is not a threat to Watson Lake, people should expect smoky conditions in the area and on the Alaska Highway, Wildland Fire Management spokesperson George Maratos said.

Sprinklers have also been put around the Fort Selkirk historical site – there is a fire six kilometres from the site, estimated at little under 3,000 hectares. The sprinklers haven’t yet been activated, to avoid potential water damage to the historic site.

Firefighters have also cleared bushes from the nearby area.

The last priority fire is a 3,300-hectare fire burning in the Mayo district.

The 70 firefighters that arrived earlier last week are still fighting alongside Yukon firefighters for now.

“There may be a need to return them depending on the situation,” said Maratos, referring to the intense fire season British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Alberta are all experiencing.

There are currently 106 active fires in the territory. Rainy conditions on Monday prevented any new starts.

“I don’t want to wish for rain for people who want to enjoy the summer, but it would be nice to get some,” said Maratos.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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