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Fire near Fort Smith breaches a major line of defence, update says

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The weather continues to be a factor in the fight against wildfires in the Northwest Territories with forecasts showing worsening conditions for many communities.


Here’s the latest:


  • Fire near Fort Smith, Fort Fitzgerald breaches first line of defence

  • Officials implore residents to not return under evacuation orders

  • Weather conditions worsen to “extreme” risk for communities of Hay River, Kakisa and Fort Smith


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Late Tuesday evening the Wood Buffalo fire, which is threatening the communities of Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald, Alta., saw “significant growth” and breached a major line of defence.


The “dozer guard” is a long strip of land that was cleared by heavy machinery where fire crews can work from.


“Structure protection in that area was turned on earlier in the day. There is an additional dozer guard that was constructed that is much closer to Fort Fitzgerald and as of tonight it has not breached the closer one,” the 9 p.m. update reads. “This means the wildfire has not reached Fort Fitzgerald at this time.”


On Tuesday the fire was about six kilometres from Fort Fitzgerald and four kilometres from Fort Smith. It is unclear how much closer the fire could spread towards Fort Fitzgerald nor how far the dozer line is from the community.


The wind picked up yesterday and, combined with the heat, forced some crews to back away from the fire.


“Today, two tanker groups were requested to assist. Unfortunately, due to poor visibility, they were unable to fly safely and were stood down,” the update reads.


The South Slave region is predicted to have “extreme fire danger” over the next few days.


On Tuesday fires in the North Slave region, which includes the City of Yellowknife, were held off by crews. The weather has been in the favour of firefighters there, allowing them to make some gains on the blazes.


The short break in weather could be changing across the territory as the fire danger forecast for the North Slave region is high and extreme for Yellowknife and the surrounding communities.

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