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NWT wildfires continue to burn

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, August 17, 2014, 1:06 PM -

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It's been the summer of the forest fire in the Northwest Territories, and it's still going on.

Around 52 forest fires are listed as out of control or being held by NWT Fire, along with 18 more that are under control. That's just a part of the total 270 wildfires that have sparked in the territory so far this year, accounting for more than 3 million hectares of land scorched.

Smoke from the wildfires has made it as far south as Ontario and the United States over the summer, and as of Sunday afternoon, a special air quality statement was in effect for several areas, including the capital Yellowknife, warning of poor air and low visibility due to the sheer amount of smoke in the atmosphere.

Visibility has resulted in warning advisories for highway travellers on and off this season, and although most major highways were listed as open on Sunday, officials warn that could change quickly.

The territory's rivers and lakes have also been harder to navigate. CBC reports several boaters this season have struggled with visibility, with some even being stranded in need of rescue after running aground.

The CBC also reports that, aside from recreation, commercial fishermen have struggled also. Riverside flames have raised water temperatures in some spots, and smoke and ash infusing into river water can alter its acidity, affecting the diet of certain kinds of fish and forcing them to seek sustenance elsewhere.

CBC says that's a factor in the poor haul this year, around half the 2013 numbers.

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