Residents making plans to head back to Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ this week can expect to see fires in the area flare up in the coming weeks, says the N.W.T.'s Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The fire between Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, as well as the one along the Ingraham Trail are being held, according to N.W.T. Fire. That means they are no longer considered to be out of control, but they aren't completely under control either.
Speaking with CBC News Network Monday morning, Minister Shane Thompson said there had been more than 220 hot spots on the fire between Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, and 160 on the Ingraham Trail fire.
He said those those fires will continue to flare up "until probably the first snow fall." He added that it might flare up again sometime in the springtime, after hibernating through the winter — referencing the way fire can burn deep in the ground, even when it's well-below freezing above the ground.
Rain brings relief in South Slave
N.W.T. Fire said Sunday evening that over the course of 24 hours, 25 millimetres of rain had fallen in Hay River. The rain and favourable winds were expected to reduce the fire risk in the community in the coming days — but conditions are expected to become more challenging throughout the week.
The fire agency says there is no more rain expected in the forecast, and hot, clear, dry conditions would return later in the week, including unseasonably high temperatures by the end of the week.
Further south, the area near Fort Smith saw between two and six millimetres of rain on Sunday.
"The rain is going to help firefighting efforts and make the work we're doing slightly easier for the next few days," reads an update from Wood Buffalo National Park officials, shared Monday at noon.
However, "given the extreme drought conditions" several consecutive days of rain would be needed to have a significant impact on the massive wildfire burning nearby.
Officials say the drought conditions have led to the fire burning "deep in the ground."
On Monday, crews started building a control line near Grand de tour Road to connect to the Slave River.
The return to Yellowknife
Essential personnel are expected to be arriving in Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ on Monday and Tuesday, in advance of the general public being allowed to re-enter as of noon on Wednesday.
The phased re-entry is a massive logistical undertaking, with residents choosing either to return on flights organized by the territorial government or by vehicle. The territory is also cautioning people to think twice about coming back right away, because it'll take days and, in some cases, weeks to get services back up and running again.
We have compiled and are updating this Q&A page to help people make decisions about when and how to return, and we'll be updating it. You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org