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Wildfires Threaten Yellowknife: Thousands Evacuated in Canada’s Worst Wildfire Season on Record

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Wildfires raging around Yellowknife, the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories, have prompted the evacuation of thousands of people. The city, home to about 20,000 residents, has been threatened by uncontained wildfires that have been rapidly approaching.[0] This evacuation order comes as Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, with over 1,000 active fires burning across the country. Of these, more than 200 are in the Northwest Territories alone.[1]

The wildfires have already burned through more than 8,000 square miles of land, an area 91 times larger than last year's entire fire season. The extent of the fires has impacted nearly all of Canada's 13 provinces and has even reached as far east as Europe. The smoke from the fires has also blanketed major population centers in the United States, such as New York City and Georgia.[2]

The fire threatening Yellowknife, which has been measured at least 163,000 hectares wide, is currently about 16 kilometers away from the city.[3] The Canadian government has declared a state of emergency to acquire and deploy resources to fight the fires.[4] However, officials have emphasized that while the city is not in immediate danger, there is a safe window for residents to evacuate by road or air.[5]

Residents living along the Ingraham Trail, in Dettah, Kam Lake, Grace Lake, and the Engle Business District are considered at the highest risk and have been urged to evacuate as soon as possible.[0] The evacuation order also includes provisions for those who are unable to leave by car, allowing them to register for evacuation flights.[6] Air evacuations are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. local time.[7]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in communication with Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane regarding the situation.[8] The Prime Minister will convene an emergency committee, known as the Incident Response Group, to discuss the wildfires and extreme weather across the country.[9]

Climate change has been identified as a significant factor contributing to the increase in wildfires. Dry conditions and high temperatures have made wildfires more frequent and difficult to control. As a result, wildfires have become more prevalent in northern latitudes as the world warms.

The impact of the wildfires is not limited to Canada, as the smoke from the fires has affected air quality in large parts of the country and even reached the United States. The widespread blazes have led to periodic intrusions of hazardous smoke, polluting the skies from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regions.

Efforts are being made to support evacuees, with gas and tow trucks available along the evacuation route to assist those leaving the affected areas.[10] The Canadian government is using every available tool to address the crisis and protect the health and safety of residents.

In conclusion, the wildfires in Canada's Northwest Territories, particularly around Yellowknife, have led to the evacuation of thousands of people. This comes during Canada's worst wildfire season on record, driven by human-caused climate change. The fires have burned vast areas of land, impacted air quality, and prompted the declaration of a state of emergency. The government is working to provide resources and support to combat the fires and ensure the safety of affected residents.[6]

0. “Wildfires Approach Yellowknife” nasa.gov, 17 Aug. 2023, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/151722/wildfires-approach-yellowknife

1. “Yellowknife wildfire: traffic clogs road out of town as residents race to evacuate” The Guardian, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/17/yellowknife-wildfire-canada-evacuation

2. “Canadian territory capital ordered to evacuate due to approaching wildfire” Popular Science, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.popsci.com/environment/canada-northwest-territory-wildfire/

3. “People pour out of Yellowknife under evacuation order” Nunatsiaq News, 17 Aug. 2023, https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/people-pour-out-of-yellowknife-under-evacuation-order/

4. “Wildfire threatens northern Canadian city; 20,000 ordered to evacuate” UPI News, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2023/08/17/canada-wildfire-Yellowknife-evacuation/7641692252735/

5. “Canada wildfires: Thousands urged to evacuate by road and air as blaze nears country's most northern city” Sky News, 17 Aug. 2023, https://news.sky.com/story/canada-wildfires-thousands-urged-to-evacuate-by-road-and-air-as-blaze-nears-countrys-most-northern-city-12941470

6. “Wildfires force 20,000 residents to evacuate from Yellowknife, Canada” NPR, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/08/17/1194388692/wildfire-yellowknife-canada-evacuation

7. “Yellowknife begins evacuation as wildfires approach” The Weather Network, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.theweathernetwork.com/en/news/weather/severe/yellowknife-begins-evacuation-as-wildfires-approach

8. “The entire capital city of Canada's Northwest Territories has been ordered to evacuate as hundreds of wildfires scorch …” CNN, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/16/americas/canada-northwest-territories-wildfires-thursday/index.html

9. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convenes the Incident Response Group to discuss wildfires in the Northwest Territories …” Prime Minister of Canada, 17 Aug. 2023, http://www.pm.gc.ca/en/news/readouts/2023/08/17/prime-minister-justin-trudeau-convenes-incident-response-group-discuss

10. “Canada Wildfires: 20,000 Evacuating Regional Capital Amid ‘Unprecedented’ Fires” Forbes, 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/tylerroush/2023/08/17/canada-wildfires-20000-evacuating-regional-capital-amid-unprecedented-fires

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