Yukon firefighters battle 2,100 hectare fire northeast of Watson Lake

The Yukon has its first major forest fire of the season.

The Yukon has its first major forest fire of the season.

Yukon Wildland Fire Management said May 31 that it is monitoring a 2,100-hectare fire in the wilderness 133 kilometres northeast of Watson Lake.

The fire, which was sparked by a lightning strike, is the largest in the territory this year but doesn’t pose an immediate risk to any communities.

Crews are removing brush and debris and placing sprinkler kits around a lone cabin approximately 15 km north of the fire cabin, said spokesperson Catherine Spence.

Otherwise, officials will be keeping a close eye on the fire, which is the first in the Tintina region this year. It grew from 700 hectares to 2,100 in a day, spurred by high winds, Spence said.

Firefighters are also battling a fire 40 kilometres northwest of Haines Junction, near the Alaska Highway.

The human-caused fire near Haines Junction was first reported the evening of May 27, prompting an immediate response from the crew and the Haines Junction volunteer fire department.

“The initial burning conditions of this fire were very challenging due to the dry fuels in the area and the gusty winds at the time,” said duty officer Kris Johnson in a news release.

But the firefighters, supported by two helicopters and two air tanker groups, managed to box the fire in, preventing any substantial growth. More firefighters joined the effort Sunday.

The fire was still active May 29. Officials expect crews will have to keep fighting the fire for the rest of the week.

George Maratos, a spokesperson for Yukon Wildland Fire Management, said the officials revised their estimate of the fire’s size to 13 hectares from the initial estimate of 23 hectares.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean that the fire has shrunk but it’s a more accurate estimation as sometimes it’s hard to size a fire with all the smoke burning,” he said.

Traffic controls are in place along the Alaska Highway as a safety measure. Motorists should be prepared for possible delays and are advised to check yukon511.ca for the latest road conditions.

Firefighters continued to battle a smaller fire near Lake Laberge Monday. Crews also snuffed out a small fire at Canyon Creek, 29 km northest of Haines Junction.

So far this fire season, 11 fires have burned more than 2,100 hectares of land. The fire hazard is high to extreme in most of the southern part of the territory.

Contact Yukon News at editor@yukon-news.com

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