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LOCAL BLAZE ATTENDED TO – Smoke rises from the wildfire that broke out Monday evening near Grey Mountain. Photo courtesy YUKON PROTECTIVE SERVICES

Lightning strike numbers ‘stupendously high’

Wildfires are breaking out in droves across the Yukon as lightning pummels the territory and a stubborn heat wave wears on.

By Whitehorse Star on July 6, 2022

Wildfires are breaking out in droves across the Yukon as lightning pummels the territory and a stubborn heat wave wears on.

Mike Fancie of Yukon Wildland Fire Management said Tuesday afternoon about 20 fires a day have been sparked, beginning on the Canada weekend.

They have brought the total this year to 155 wildfires (about 130 active as of today) that have burned 45,000 hectares.

Fancie described the proportion of fires caused by lightning as “stupendously high” at 97 per cent, compared with about 70 per cent in a typical year with the remainder being caused by humans.

On Monday alone, there were more than 3,000 lightning incidents, 484 of which were positive strikes that carry with them increased fire danger, he said.

“The sheer volume of lightning activity and new fires over the past few days have totally obliterated that statistic,” he said.

“Yukon is facing unprecedented levels of lightning-caused wildfire activity right now.”

As of this morning, the territory had experienced 21,670 strikes in recent days.

The fires come as Environment Canada issued a heat warning for much of the territory, while both fires and flooding have prompted evacuation alerts in several areas. Multiple highway closures are also impacting transportation and access to communities.

The Yukon Emergency Measures Organization issued a new evacuation alert for the Silver Trail and surrounding areas on Tuesday afternoon.

Those areas include the Moose Creek Lodge, Mayo, Elsa, Keno City and the Victoria Gold Mine.

An alert means people should gather their most important items and be ready to flee on two hours’ notice if the fire becomes a direct threat and the alert graduates to an official order to leave.

The Ethel Lake campground was evacuated last Saturday.

Of particular concern is the Crystal Lake fire in central Yukon, which has grown to 2,500 hectares and prompted an evacuation alert last Sunday for Stewart Crossing, about 15 kilometres away.

The fire also forced the closure of part of the Klondike Highway, an important transportation link among Whitehorse, Dawson and Mayo.

Depending on smoke conditions, traffic is being taken through by pilot car, and only when it’s safe. A spotter in a helicopter has been looking for breaks in smoke plumes to alert pilot vehicle operators.

Motorists could face waits as long as several hours to get through the affected area.

Flames have crossed the highway and charred some power poles near Stewart Crossing. This afternoon, Yukon Energy and Northwestel Corp. crews are en route with a crane to replace the poles and conduct repairs.

Meanwhile, a 1,500-hectare fire near Frances Lake has kept the Robert Campbell Highway between Ross River and Watson Lake closed.

The territorial government has issued a lengthy statement about the cenral Yukon evacuation alerts.

“While residents are not being asked to evacuate your property at this time, an evacuation alert is intended to provide you time to be ready to leave safely should an evacuation order be issued,” the government said.

“After receiving this evacuation alert, residents should consider:

Connecting with all family members to determine a plan and designate a safe meeting place;

Moving grab-and-go bags for you and your family to a readily accessible location;

Gathering essential items such as medication, eyeglasses, valuable papers and immediate care needs for dependents;

Arranging transport for your household members in anticipation of a potential evacuation order, and be sure to fill your gas tank should you need to evacuate suddenly;

Arranging accommodation for your family, as commercial accommodations may be limited. In the event of an evacuation order, emergency accommodation will be provided if required;

Monitoring local news sources and Yukon.ca/emergencies for updated information on the status of the fire and impact on the area.”

Yukoners and visitors are encouraged to avoid visiting properties in the affected area and to proactively relocate, prior to the fire affecting the area directly, the government said.

Community members impacted by wildfire evacuation alerts are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services (ESS) by phoning 867-332-7367.

Registration with ESS allows you to receive urgent assistance when needed.

Meanwhile, flood warnings have been in effect since last week for areas around Teslin Lake and the Yukon River near Carmacks.

Many of the challenges are caused by a so-called Rex block weather system, which occurs when a high-pressure system sits above a low-pressure system and brings isolated thunderstorms, Fancie said.

“Why these are bad for us is that they’re very stable weather patterns,” he said.

“So when the high-pressure ridge sits over us like this, it invariably means that we can expect this weather condition for an extended period of time, and that’s what’s happening,” he said.

Forecasters are predicting falling temperatures Friday and Saturday, but it’s too early to count on that, he said.

The Yukon has already called in extra support through mutual aid agreements from British Columbia. The number of air tanker crews from that province was expected to rise to 10 today.

There were 104 active fires Tuesday, compared with 36 on the same date last year.

The total area burned by Tuesday morning was 42,979 hectares compared with 27,492 in 2021, Fancie said.

Environment Canada also issued a heat warning Tuesday for much of the territory, urging residents to drink lots of water and seek out cool places.

Temperatures were expected to reach 28 C with nighttime lows of 13 C.

The warning applies to Whitehorse, Old Crow, Dawson and other areas throughout the central, southern and western regions of the territory.

It comes after daily temperature records were set Monday in Haines Junction, Carmacks and Teslin, with heat hovering around 30 C (see story, p. 5).

Meanwhile, a plume of smoke near Grey Mountain in Whitehorse on Monday evening caught many people’s attention.

“Thank you to the Yukoners who called in the smoke northeast of Grey Mountain,” Wildand Fire Management stated on social media at around 9 p.m. Monday.

“The fire is 1.5 hectares in our strategic response zone. An air tanker team and helicopter have been deployed to respond and resources will return tomorrow morning.”

An update provided early Tuesday afternoon stated, “(Monday) night, airtankers successfully boxed the fire in with retardant at three hectares in size. Resources will be back at the fire (Tuesday). The fire may continue to be visible while suppression takes place.

“The fire has since doubled in size, but department officials say it doesn’t pose any immediate risk to the city.

“It’s about 20 kilometres away currently, despite the clearly visible smoke.”

– With a file from Amy Smart of The Canadian Press

Comments (13)

Up 2 Down 3

MITCH on Jul 11, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Dude, let's make a rap album in a ditch about Canada.

Up 3 Down 2

MITCH on Jul 11, 2022 at 12:43 pm

@ Patti - your inability to comprehend is not a requisite to my personal expression. Go Karen under a bridge Troll, sunlight just ruins it for everybody, that face.

Up 10 Down 4

In the ditch with Mitch on Jul 10, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Dear Mitch on Jul 9, 2022 at 2:43 pm;

Like you, I like to keep the conversation going, good, bad, or indifferent, the conversation should not be ‘deferent’.
You rappin is good and you are well understood. I appreciate your lookout for the hood.
As I have said before, I never close the door, that is behaviour that I abhor.

Trudeau must go and we should give Singh a fling but most of all we should excommunicate our NDP Kate! The will of the people is a con game for the Liberally lame, the meek and the tame who possess great Liberal shame who wants everyone to all be the same except when they blame…

Liberals are no longer liberals and this is why they attack knowledge and history. Everything that was shall be no more we all diversity whores. Chaos wins in the great reset your thoughts and worries are beset with constant fret… Liberal alarmism will not let you forget… Panic here, panic there, there is great panic everywhere…

As my grandpappy used to say make sure you wear clean underwear today because you never know when air raid sirens will alert the Liberal commons… Emergency, catastrophe, and disasters too you never know if it’ll be to the hospital with you… Clean skivvies are a must do… Sure those nurses are brave but skid marks in your shorts will make even the most seasoned nurse cave…

Up 3 Down 5

Patti Eyre on Jul 10, 2022 at 10:48 am

Give it up Mitch and make sensible posts

Up 4 Down 6

Mitch on Jul 9, 2022 at 2:43 pm

Honest Abe met an honest end in Japan for less poetic license than you. Poetry time is over my ditchpoet friend, what rhymes with violent revolt catalyzed by poverty and starvation, in a post poetic nation? Your current perspectives forsaken are your opinions mistaken, and in time you will find you are rudely awakened. Without internet, will you ree from a soapbox spewing your monkeypox, trying to advocate for failed Mr. Socks?
We are all in this together, but not by choice and so we must all now consider the power of a voice. Even a genocide wager can wager that the late stages of multiculture as decreed by the state, draws vultures to spoils and propogates hate. Money talks, money buys happiness, in a system of democratic capitalist happenstance. Poetry is free, your dominion in such assured, just make sure you take the blinders off for eyes left unblurred.

This polarity and division driving poetry slam is brought to you by Rogers. Rogers, we are the arm of the state and your only choice and we can your life down with a switch, or incompetence.

Up 2 Down 5

Mitch on Jul 9, 2022 at 2:08 pm

In the ditch - eloquent prose, let me be the first to like. You said something, it is more than most. I'm not scary and neither is CBC, glad you caught my point.

Up 7 Down 1

In the ditch with Mitch! on Jul 8, 2022 at 11:18 pm

Dear MITCH on Jul 7, 2022 at 8:19 am:

Parentheses - I don’t think the word means what you think it means.
Mitch’s hypothetical was not parenthetical. I observe with notation that Mitch used a quotation.
Yet he appears to have no hesitation, no thought or worry for his, her or their equivocation.

I do not disagree that you are as scary as the CBC but not for the reasons you believe it to be. To say things that are not, both you and the CBC are fraught with high hyperbole, parallel symmetry, one intended, one not, these issues of the day are super hot, but they keep administering it to you because they are bought, Mitch, perhaps not?

Parenthetically speaking, I often agree in principle with Mitch’s musings even though they may be self abusing, they are sometimes hypothetically amusing…

Up 7 Down 13

MITCH on Jul 7, 2022 at 2:49 pm

Just a daily reminder, Liberal numbers are stupendously low, even for them.

Up 15 Down 3

N Tesla on Jul 7, 2022 at 1:58 pm


The strikes are counted using scientific methods, and we all know science isn't something you aren't a big fan of.

Up 5 Down 19

Matthew on Jul 7, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Just curious, how do they know how many strikes there were? Also, was it just me who noticed the large amount of geoengineering happening 2 weeks before the 1 week of thunderstorms!? Sure nothing to see there..

Up 6 Down 16

dave on Jul 7, 2022 at 9:32 am

if lightning is becoming a problem for humans just shoot missles at the sky, that's the liberal way.

Up 4 Down 14

MITCH on Jul 7, 2022 at 9:17 am

Inclusivity advisory committee concept progresses. But you need a subscription to avail yourself of information or comment to the progress discussed. Yeah, real inclusive. Is anyone surprised? If that is what you think passes for charging people netflix fees, you are dreaming.

Up 16 Down 19

MITCH on Jul 7, 2022 at 8:19 am

Do any other Yukoners remember when we had these types of issues in the past, but we called it weather and not climate emergencies? Did the first nations call forest fires climate emergencies? Do they call beavers climate emergencies? No, they worked with them to optimize the land. That says a lot, especially because they did it without money. Maybe they should be the environment ministry, instead of Dildeau.

If you think this is an emergency, quit your job and start fixing this planet with your bare hands. No? No takers? Ok, then concede that forest fires and flooding are a part of nature and consider that they happen independent of "climate change". I added parentheses to make it scary, like CBC.

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