Wildfire ‘under control’ after state of emergency declared

Fire forced evacuation from area of Bathurst Inlet late last week

A state of emergency was declared for Bathurst Inlet, seen in a file photo, following a wildfire that started Aug. 9. On Monday, the fire was said to be under control. (File Photo)

By Jorge Antunes

A wildfire that started Wednesday and led to a state of emergency being declared by the Nunavut government is now considered to be “under control.”

Approximately 150 hectares of tundra in the Bathurst Inlet area of Nunavut were burning, which led to an evacuation of about 14 people to B2Gold’s marine laydown area about 24 kilometres south of there, Nunavut fire marshal John McDermott said on Monday.

The Bathurst Inlet area is only seasonally inhabited by hunters and campers, said Boyd Warner, who runs the Bathurst Inlet Lodge.

“They were gracious enough to host everyone until they were allowed to return,” Warner said of B2Gold.

In a statement, B2Gold spokesperson Cherry DeGeer said “the Goose Mine and Back River District are 190 kilometres from the wildfire area and were not affected.”

A Bell 407 helicopter under contract to B2Gold was released to be contracted to the Government of Nunavut to be used in its aerial firefighting efforts, DeGeer said.

The fire is now classified as being “under control,” meaning “there is little to no growth due to fire suppression from the air,” McDermott said.

He said he was unsure whether campers had been able to return to retrieve their belongings left behind during the evacuation.

He noted the Arctic is prone to many of the same issues as the rest of Canada when it comes to hot summer weather.

“Given the dryness that we’ve got reports of just on the tundra itself, it is a lot drier this year,” he said.

Warner agreed, saying, “the tundra is reportedly … so dry, it’s like walking on cornflakes — just crunch, crunch, crunch.”

Circumstances that led to a fire on the tundra aren’t that different than those that typically lead to forest fires in the south, said Terri Lang, a meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The three main ingredients for “fires are heat, ongoing heat, and a lack of precipitation,” she said.

Maps for the past 90 days indicate “it’s been above average with respect to temperature, and below average with respect [to] precipitation.”

Warner said, “I’ve been going to Bathurst since 1970. And that’s the first tundra fire I’ve seen within 200 miles of the area.

“I was talking with [our] Inuit partners and [none of them] have seen a fire up there.”


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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by S on

    150 hectares warrants a billion dollar photo op for the minister with a business communication certificate and a year of NS. Plus a declared state of emergency for his spotty resume. Only in Nunavut you say? Nope, David Joanasie has as much credentials as the PM who’d declare a state of emergency every time he’s criticized – if he could.

    It’s a lot of fuss for a grass fire someone started on the tundra that burned a tiny swath – one kilometer by one kilometer. Good thing Bathurst Inlet is nearly 300 kilometers long

    • Posted by anonymous on

      Sounds like you’re not from Nunavut and why would you assume someone started a grass fire in Bathurst Inlet? Boyd Warner is right about the grass being dry, not only in Bathurst Inlet but everywhere, this is due to lack of rain each year.

    • Posted by Hunter on

      You forgot his DUI conviction and fleeing law enforcement in PEI. Seriously if it were anyone else who did that would end up in jail for 30-60 days he got off with an apology.

  2. Posted by go take photo on

    LOL good true meaningful comment by S. Dont forget to include the king of photo opps. LOL

  3. Posted by Burn what? on

    Why is it so hard for me to take this grass fire seriously?

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