Lightning blazes
Eight new fires start up after lightning storm

Darren Campbell
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 07/98) - Lightning has created not one but nine new forest fires in the bush around Yellowknife.

Lance Schmidt, duty officer for the department of resources for the North Slave region, said the fires started up Wednesday night. They flared up after a thunder and lightning storm hit the area Tuesday morning.

The fires are scattered throughout the eastern half of the North Slave. The nearest new fire to Yellowknife is on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, approximately 125 kilometres east of the city. So far, the fire is being contained at two hectares.

But Schmidt said fire crews are "getting a handle" on those fires. He said the heavy smoke that blanketed Yellowknife the past two days was caused by a north wind that blew the smoke from all the fires in the area into the city.

If the wind stays the same for the next few days the smoke will continue to hover over Yellowknife.

He added that the smoke does not mean the Ingraham Trail and the 145,000 hectare Tibbitt Lake fire is burning up again.

"Reid Lake and the Ingraham Trail are as safe now as they ever were," said Schmidt. "But the air is going to smell like smoke for the next few days."

One of the factors in the firefighters favor is that heavy rain forecasted did start up yesterday in the Yellowknife area.

Hot weather early in the week put the department's forest fire danger rating up to extreme on Wednesday. Schmidt said it was unclear what affect the rain will have on putting out the fires in the North Slave.

He said the rain is hitting the southern areas and it might help the Tibbitt Lake fire situation. But it will have to rain a lot to change things for the whole North Slave.

"It depends on how extensive (the fire) is and how long it (the rain) lasts," said Schmidt.

On Wednesday, fire managers flew Yellowknives Dene First Nation chiefs Jonas and Fred Sangris around the fires to let them have a look at what was going on in the area.

Schmidt said that flight went well.

"Jonas and Fred seemed fairly satisfied with what is going on," said Schmidt.