Yukon calls for backup again to fight wildfires

As wildfires starts are picking up again, the territory called for reinforcement for the second time in a month. Fifteen fires started over the weekend. That includes a 105-hectate fire 23 kilometres north of Stewart Crossing that’s currently the top priority for Yukon Wildland Fire Management.

As wildfires starts are picking up again, the territory called for reinforcement for the second time in a month.

Fifteen fires started over the weekend. That includes a 105-hectate fire 23 kilometres north of Stewart Crossing that’s currently the top priority for Yukon Wildland Fire Management.

Two helicopters, two air tankers and 12 firefighters were sent on Saturday to combat the fire. It grew 15 hectares from Saturday until this morning and hasn’t been fully contained yet.

Of the 15 fires, five were in the Dawson area: two near Henderson Corner, two near the Dempster Highway cutoff and one near the Dawson airport. Those fires were kept to spot-size.

On Sunday one firefighter crew and a helicopter were dispatched to a one-hectare fire burning 10 km south of Pelly Crossing.

A fire in the Mayo district was also extinguished on Sunday.

The other fires are burning in the wilderness zone – far enough from any property or community that they don’t require being attacked.

All fires but one were started by lightning. One grass fires was reported on Saturday in the Whitehorse fire district.

“It’s been really good when you think about how many people were out this weekend,” said Yukon Wildland Fire Management spokesperson George Maratos.

But “one is too many, we don’t want to have any starts,” he said.

A month after 64 firefighters from Ontario came to help with the fires, the Yukon has made a second request for 45 firefighters from the Outside. Alberta or British Columbia will most likely be able to answer the call, wildland fire officials said.

Increased fires in the Yukon and Alaska will continue to create smoky conditions throughout the territory, fire officials said.

Smoke could be observed in and out of Whitehorse on Sunday.

Given that there are more than 80 fires burning throughout the territory, any combination of fires could be responsible for these conditions.

There has been 123 fires since the beginning of the fire season.

Meanwhile Alaska is dealing with 197 active fires, 14 of which are deemed critical, as they present a threat to nearby communities.

Some fires are as close as eight miles from communities. A fire burning 80 miles north of Anchorage is not yet fully contained, and it’s destroyed 25 homes and forced the evacuation of some of the smaller communities.

Since the beginning of the fire season, there has been 171 lightning-causes fires and 266 human-caused ones in Alaska, burning an estimated 92,000 hectares. That’s three times the surface of forest that’s burned in the Yukon.

Alaska has had to call for Outside help, too: 1,303 outside personnel came in to assist with the fires, including 40 from Canada.

To report a fire, call 1-888-798-FIRE (3473).

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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