Historic 2022 wildfire season has Yukon well past 25-year average for area burned

The Yukon is experiencing a number of historic fires in the territory so far, with the total burned area surpassing the 25-year average.

So far this year, 100,998 hectares have burned in the territory due to wildfires – 20,000 hectares more than the 25-year average at this time. The figures are displayed in a national report issued by the Canadian Interagency Wildfire Prevention Center on Saturday.

The number of burnt areas so far is nearly 5 times higher than last year at the same time, only 22,648 hectares.

The CIFF report also shows that the number of wildfires in the territory has been exponentially higher. This year, the whole country had 227 fires compared to 42 last year.

Kathryn Hallett, a spokeswoman for Yukon’s Protective Services division, said the numbers were significant, especially given that many fires are occurring near essential communities and transportation infrastructure such as Alaska Highway, Robert Campbell Freeway, and North Klondike Freeway.

“It’s actually a really good thing when we have fires in the wilderness because it’s a natural ecological process,” Hallett said.

“But obviously, when they’re close to communities, people and infrastructure, we have to dedicate resources to them to try and get them out because people could be at risk.”

Evacuation warnings have been issued for several communities, including Carmacks, Stewart Crossing, Teslin and Silver Trail and surrounding areas.

“They’re in the process of setting up a 150-person camp in Pelly to help with the Silver Trail, Stewart and Mayo area fires,” said Hallett, who explains that in a “typical” fire season, Yukon maybe 100 firefighters on the ground at one point across the territory. Currently, there are 300 firefighters with additional resources to be brought in from BC soon.

A fire on Cap Mountain near Whitehorse. The Yukon is dealing with a number of historic wildfires in 2022 that closed major highways and led to the territory’s government issuing travel advice urging residents and visitors not to travel unless when necessary. (Submitted by Yukon Wildland Fire Management)

As of Sunday morning, there are high fire hazard ratings for Whitehorse and Carcross.

Level 2 fire bans remain in place for all Yukon fire management zones, which only allows cooking and heating fires in furnaces and stoves at commercial and territorial campsites. accessible, but all other uses of fire are suspended.

As the Yukon continues to face many challenges, from increased fire activity to road closures and Wednesday internet outageHallett says people need to heed travel advice.

Travel warning

The Yukon government issued a travel advisory for the entire territory on Friday due to wildfires.

Advice to Yukoners and visitors is to limit travel between communities to essential travel.

“Travelers could put additional pressure on any response or on locals in some communities being warned to evacuate,” Hallett said.

Hallett also mentioned that as floods and wildfires caused some closures across the territory, it became more difficult to get fuel or grocery trucks into some communities.

“What we don’t want is for people to come in for a weekend getaway or something and buy some essential items in those communities,” she said.

Hallett also mentioned if there was an actual evacuation in one of the communities and there were more people than usual, it would add pressure and strain to safety efforts.

“So it’s really important that people respect that and respect that there are some people who are going through some really stressful times right now,” she said.

Have a carry-on bag

Hallett recommends that “people always have a bag ready to go” in case they have to leave their home quickly, regardless of whether they have an evacuation order.

“It’s one of the most basic, easiest things people can do to prepare for emergencies,” she said.

In the bag, everyone should have enough water for up to three days for everyone in the family, food for the same amount of time, medicine and all important documents, such as passports and papers. permission.

The next step, according to Hallett, is to create a family plan in case any members are separated during the evacuation, and to establish an extra-territorial safe contact.

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