The skyline in Arviat on Monday shows the effects of smoke from wildfires in the Northwest Territories. The smoke and smog are drifting into Nunavut communities, creating dark, smoke-filled skies. (Photo courtesy of Robyn Koomuk)

N.W.T. wildfire smoke rolls over Nunavut

Residents in communities like Arviat and Igloolik report darker, hazier conditions that affect their breathing

By David Lochead

The impact of wildfires in the Northwest Territories is being felt in Nunavut, as smoke blanketed some communities.

“Our whole town was still dark until late afternoon,” Arviat resident Robyn Koomuk said Tuesday.

“Even the streetlights were still on at 11 a.m. when we were affected by it.”

The smoke made it difficult to breathe, Koomuk said, especially for people like her who have medical conditions that affect their breathing.

The Northwest Territories has seen an unprecedented wildfire season, with more than two million hectares — an area more than three times bigger than PEI — burned and eight communities evacuated.

Recently, Hay River was evacuated and Yellowknife declared a local state of emergency on Monday. Members of the Canadian Forces were deployed to help with the public safety effort.

According to Fire Smoke Canada’s forecasting tool, smoke from the N.W.T. wildfires has extended to Nunavut’s Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions as well as small parts of the Qikiqtaaluk region.

In Igloolik, Edward Atkinson said the sky has been red and dark and that smog lingered in the community all day Tuesday.

“I’ve been here 23 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Even in the building where he works, smoke has made its way in through air vents and people smell it in the hallway, Atkinson said.

With Arviat being further south from the fires, Atkinson said he can understand why it would feel the effects of the wildfires. But Igloolik is “pretty high up,” he said, just touching the 69th parallel.

“I would describe it as an oddity,” Atkinson said of the smog in Igloolik, calling it “the talk of the town.”

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Northerner on

    Looks like a scene of armageddon , looks eerie.


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