Wildfire north of Behchokǫ̀ now 'being held'

A fire north of Behchokǫ̀, which triggered an evacuation notice in the community of Edzo earlier this week, is now classified as "being held," according to the N.W.T. government.

In an update Thursday evening, the territory's forestry division said there had been "hard-won firefighting gains" against the lightning-caused fire over the last two days. It also clarified that being held means the fire is not expected to grow with the projected forecast and continued firefighting efforts — different, it said, from being "under control."

"More work is required to lessen the risk of the fire's continued growth as the peak of the fire season unfolds," the update reads.

The territory said the fire, which was 17 kilometres northwest of the Behchokǫ̀ airport, had been 230 hectares in size when it was assessed on Wednesday. It started on the west shore of Marian Lake on Sunday.

Rain in the forecast was expected to keep fire activity low Thursday, and winds gusting up to 40 kilometres were expected to push the fire into the shores of the lake. More rain in the evening forecast would be a "big help" for firefighting efforts, the update said.

The forestry division says a structure protection specialist was planning, proactively, for the fire to grow south toward Edzo. The update underscored that seeing fire personnel in Edzo would not necessarily mean risk from the fire has grown.

The fire initially "escaped" an aggressive attack from both the air and ground when it first started because of extreme conditions, the update said.

As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, an evacuation notice for the community of Edzo remained in effect. For updates, you can check the N.W.T.'s public safety updates page.