Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Dan Davidson

UPDATING THE SITUATION – Fire information officer Erin Catherall meets with locals and visitors Tuesday at the Visitor Information Centre in Dawson City.

Highway still open as smoke blankets many areas

Neither of the two major wildfires approaching the North Klondike Highway had reached it as of early this afternoon, and the artery remained open.

By Dan Davidson on July 10, 2019

DAWSON CITY – Neither of the two major wildfires approaching the North Klondike Highway had reached it as of early this afternoon, and the artery remained open.

Firefighters had hoped to conduct “burn-out” operations on the Pigue Creek fire (Dawson 10) on Tuesday afternoon, but had to drop that plan due to a change in the winds.

The report, from Erin Catherall, a Yukon Wildfire Fire Management information officer,  indicates they planned to try that again today, weather permitting.

The blaze, which is burning between a smoky Stewart Crossing and Dawson is the largest fire. It was last reported to be 44,000 ha last week, but is now 82,843, according to Wildland’s website.

The purpose of the burn-outs is to to reduce the impact to the highway, power lines, and fibre optic line.

So far, there have been no disruptions. Should the power lines be affected, Dawson has sufficient resources at the Yukon Energy plant to power the Klondike for several days, as it did before the hydro line from Mayo was connected several years ago.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday), flaggers will be on the road piloting vehicles between Clear Creek Mine Road and McQuesten Lodge along the Klondike highway,” the report said.

“It is possible that the highway could close if it were challenged by wildfire activity,” information officer Mike Fancie told the Star this morning.

“Wildland Fire Management has plans in place should the highway need to close. We are also conducting operations along the highway to minimize potential damage to the highway, the fibre optic cable, and the powerline.

“While the highway remains open, highway users should consult 511 Yukon before they travel and expect delays between Stewart Crossing and the Dempster Corner,” Fancie added.

The Hunker fire (Dawson 20), burning 26 kilometres soeutheast of Dawson, has grown.

It is now 12,790 ha, after having been reported at 7,513 ha on Monday.

“Dry lightning is forecasted in the region in the next 48 hours,” Wildland’s report says.

Travellers are asked to be careful of other vehicles and work crews, and resist the temptation to stop and look at or take pictures of the fires.

The highway will become busier later next week due to staff, performers and visitors travelling to the annual Dawson City Music Festival.

Information officers planned to spend from 10 a.m. to noon today at the Visitor Information Centre on Front Street to speak with locals and visitors. Display maps are marked with up-to-date information.

Travellers are advised that additional information can be found on the public website at www.yukon.ca/wildfire and on Facebook (@YukonProtectiveServices).

To stay up-to-date on the status of the Klondike Highway and all other Yukon roads: visit www.511Yukon.ca before you travel.

The lightning-caused Beaver Creek fire, reported laste Saturday, has also grown. It’s up to 1,245 ha from the reported 617 ha on Monday.

The blaze on Volcano Mountain, near Pelly Farm, has not grown, remaining at 2,400 ha.

Meanwhile, the office of the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health is updating its air quality advisory due to forecasts for thickening concentrations of smoke.

Wildfires in Alaska and central Yukon continue to produce smoke throughout the territory.

“Local conditions will affect the smoke concentration in each community,” said the advisory, issued Tuesday.

“Current forecasts predict that the densest smoke will affect central Yukon communities starting Wednesday.”

You can estimate the air quality in your community by determining how far you can see (visibility index). 

For information on the visibility index please see:


“If visibility is less than two kilometres, the air quality is very unhealthy, and people should find cleaner air indoors to protect their health,” the advisory said.

“Smoke can impact your health if it lingers in your community.”

The advisory offers the following observations:

• you may experience symptoms such as coughing, eye or throat irritation, or shortness of breath. If you are experiencing symptoms, stop your outdoor activity and/or strenuous physical activity and find cleaner indoor air; and

• make sure you identify and support those who are at a higher risk from wildfire smoke.

Those at an elevated risk include small children, elders, pregnant women, and people with lung or heart disease.

These people should avoid all strenuous activity during smoky conditions.

• if you have a health condition that could worsen with the smoke (asthma/chronic lung disease, or heart disease) check in with your health care provider to make sure that you have a plan for managing your condition. Ensure your medications and supplies are available and up-to-date;

• reduce exposure to smoky air by staying indoors and turning on an air cleaner with a HEPA filter, if you have one. Keep indoor air as clean as possible by avoiding smoking or burning other materials;

• if your symptoms worsen or you are concerned about your health or the health of a friend or family member, contact the health line at 811, your health care provider, or go to your community health centre or hospital emergency department;

• for advice about keeping your home air clean and cool visit www.hss.gov.yk.ca/wildfiresmoke.php;

• to view an hourly forecast of smoke conditions in Yukon, visit www.firesmoke.ca/forecasts/current; and

• visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast Air Quality Health Index values for Whitehorse.

– With files from Gord Fortin

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.