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Yellowknife being evacuated amid wildfires in Northwest Territories: territorial state of emergency declared

By Caitlin Snow Aug 18, 2023 | 12:13 PM

Yellowknife is being evacuated as wildfires continue to take hold of the Northwest Territories and a territorial state of emergency now declared.

The fires have not yet reached the city but have gotten closer and officials fear it will reach Yellowknife by the weekend and residents are encouraged to be out by 12pm Friday.

Officials do say the one highway out will remain open as long as it’s safe.  Evacuees are being directed toward Alberta.

Canadian military troops have been sent in to help.

“The decision to declare a territory-wide State of Emergency allows the Government of the Northwest Territories and our partners to access and deploy resources so that we can continue our work to protect residents and communities in a more efficient manner. We find ourselves in a crisis situation and our government is using every tool available to assist.”

– Shane ThompsonMinister of Environment and Climate Change; Municipal and Community Affairs

Fires and evacuations

There are 236 wildfires covering over 2126254 Ha., four times the size of Prince Edward Island.

Many have been evacuated including those in the region of South Slave, Beaufort-Delta and Jean Marie River as well as areas of Yellowknife with fire coming within 20km of the city.

The Territory’s government page says the situation is rapidly evolving in the South Slave and North Slave regions, with needs on the ground changing quickly. Fort Smith and Hay River remain at risk due to the fires in South Slave and Yellowknife is at an increased risk to due to a fire approaching from the west.

WestJet adds evacuation flights

To help the evacuation efforts, WestJet has added an extra evacuation flight between Yellowknife and Calgary. They’ve also adjusted fare classes to avoid price escalation.

With the mandatory evacuation order in place and only one highway in and out of Yellowknife, the extra flight at a reduced cost will hopefully get more people out of the affected area.

Quick Facts

  • This state of emergency applies to all of the Northwest Territories in recognition of the efforts needed to manage this unprecedented wildfire season.
  • Declaring a territory-wide State of Emergency provides additional powers to the Minister and those designated by the Minister to do all acts and take all necessary proceedings, for the duration of the order, to deal with an emergency.
  • Under the Emergency Management Act, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs may declare a state of emergency for a period of 14 days.
  • A state of emergency may be renewed, if the Minister determines that an emergency still exists.

Their Territories’ Facebook page has all the updated information, here. 

The link to their government page is here.


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