Northwest Territories fire crews say work continues to combat hot spots and flare-ups near evacuated communities, while area residents wait to find out when they can return home.
Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said workers are busy bringing essential services online and hope remains that residents will be allowed to begin returning this weekend.
Essential workers have also returned to Fort Smith, on the Alberta border, but it is still not safe for the general population to return.
K’atl’odeeche First Nation Chief April Martel said crews are currently conducting air and water quality testing to prepare for residents to return.
Back to school in the territorial capital of Yellowknife began a week ago.
Mike Westwick, fire information officer, warned returning residents that crews are likely putting out hot spots and fires for the remainder of the season.
“All of these fires will have to be managed until the snow falls,” Westwick told reporters in a conference call Thursday.
“You don’t go back to a fire-free community and you don’t go back to a risk-free community.
“You’re returning to a community where you’ll live with fire in a much more intimate way than we’re usually used to in the boreal forest.
Westwick urged returning residents to be alert for hazards such as heavy equipment and unstable trees with compromised root systems that are more likely to tip over.
“What you come back to can be hard to see,” Westwick said.
“Many people lost their homes, cabins and a number of other things they cherished because of these fires.”
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