Wildfires in Northwest Territories Update
Wildfires, as in many parts of the world, are a part of summers and each wildfire season is different. The 2023 wildfire season in Canada was the most destructive on record and all provinces and territories were affected, including the sparsely populated Northwest Territories. Wildfires moving towards Yellowknife led to an Evacuation Order being issued on 16 August for the residents of Yellowknife and nearby communities, an event that received extensive coverage in the international media.
The wildfires did not reach Yellowknife as a result of tireless efforts by essential workers, private contractors, military personnel, international firefighters and countless volunteers. On 6 September, the evacuation order was lifted and residents began returning. The infrastructure in the majority of Yellowknife and NWT returned to normal. The City is now well protected against wildfires including the creation of firebreaks and the Territorial Government is better prepared to manage future wildfire threats.
The wildfire-related evacuation of Yellowknife during the summer of 2023 was an unusual event that is unlikely to be repeated.
The main wildfire impact on northern Canadian communities is smoke in the air. During Yellowknife summers, wildfire smoke is present on some days but usually does not impact any activities. 12 IKC is being held in early July 2024 which precedes the traditional start of the NWT wildfire season, but in July 2023 there was already intermittent smoke in the City. The 12 IKC Organising Committee will monitor smoke conditions during the conference and will advise delegates should unusual conditions be forecasted.