Whitehorse Daily Star

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LATE-SEASON INFERNO – The wildfire that may spark an evacuation is burning south of Stewart Crossing. Photo courtesy of YUKON GOVERNMENT PROTECTIVE SERVICES

Mayo, Dawson considered for evacuation centre

An evacuation alert has been issued for the Stewart Crossing and Ethel Lake areas because of a wildfire burning south of Stewart Crossing.

By Chuck Tobin on September 11, 2019

An evacuation alert has been issued for the Stewart Crossing and Ethel Lake areas because of a wildfire burning south of Stewart Crossing.

The alert was issued at 4 p.m. Monday.

Information officer Maxim Naylor of the Emergency Measures Organization said this morning officials are planning to establish a reception centre. It would accommodate area residents who may need assistance if an evacuation is ordered.

Mayo is looking like the best option to establish the centre, but staff are also considering Dawson City, he said.

The multi-agency response to the evacuation alert involves Yukon Wildland Fire Management, the fire marshal’s office and the Department of Health and Social Services.

“We will be ready to go if it gets to that point,” he said.

Naylor said there are approximately 60 residents living in the area affected by the alert.

Structural protection has been established around 15 structures along the Ethel Lake Road. Crews are currently working to establish protection around another 15, he said.

Naylor explained the Crooked Creek fire started in July. It was not a priority because it was burning in the wilderness observation zone at a time when resources were committed to the large fires in the Dawson region.

Now that it’s active again, it’s become a priority, he said.

The area under alert includes a five-kilometre radius around Stewart Crossing and the 12-kilometre stretch south to the Ethel Lake Road and the west end of Ethel Lake.

Information officer Mike Fancie said hot temperatures and winds have expanded the size of the Crooked Creek fire by a couple of thousands hectares in the last two days. The blaze, which was started by lightning, is estimated at 17,702 hectares, he said.

Fancie said there were six firefighters and a seven-member structural protection team on the Crooked Creek fire Monday, supported by three helicopters.

More resources are being assigned today, but weather conditions have also led to an increase in fire activity in the Dawson region, he said.

“Even though this is a late-season fire, we are looking at our resources now and making an assessment of what else we might need.”

Under the evacuation alert, residents are asked to be ready to evacuate within two hours if an order is issued.

Procedures to make preparations are outlined on the Yukon government’s website.

They include:

• locate all family members and designate a safe meeting place;

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

• move livestock or pets to a safe area;

• arrange transport for your household members in anticipation of a potential evacuation order;

• arrange accommodation for your family (in the event of an evacuation order, emergency accommodation may be provided, if required); and

• monitor local news sources and the government website for updated information on the status of the fire and impact on the area.

Residents who chose to self-evacuate are asked to contact Emergency Health and Social Services by telephoning 867-332-4588 or contacting Mayo’s Health and Social Services office in person.

Naylor said it’s important that those who choose to self-evacuate let emergency personnel know so officials are aware of who has already left the area in the event of an evacuation order.

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