After reports of at least two campfires left burning in the territory last week, Yellowknife’s fire chief says fires left unattended could become a big problem this summer.

Last week, a post to a Yellowknife classifieds Facebook group detailed the efforts two community members took to put out a fire left burning at the Yellowknife River. A few days later NWT Wildfire stated another campfire was found burning at the Fort Smith boat launch. The community of Fort Smith is under a fire ban and a wildfire crew was sent to put out the fire.

Yellowknife fire chief John Fredericks says abandoned campfires in wooded areas around Yellowknife have been an issue in the past – in 2016 the department responded to 25 such fires. While the numbers have gone down each year since then, four abandoned campfires have already been found and put out this May. Fredericks thinks this could be a sign of another busy summer.

“Some have spread to trees but we’ve got there rather quickly and got them extinguished,” Fredericks says. “But there could be a possibility sometime that we have a large breakout of a forest fire in the city due to these fires. So far we have been lucky.”

Fredericks says it is the fires being lit in wooded areas such as around the Legislative Assembly that are the real issue, not fires in approved fire pits.

To extinguish a campfire you need a water source close to you – such as a garden hose, extinguisher or a couple of pail of water. “Keep adding water to the fire until all the hot coals have been extinguished. Stir the ashes around to make sure that everything is out.”

To report a campfire left burning, call 873-2222 (Yellowknife), 874-2222 (Hay River) or 1-877-NWT-FIRE (wildfires).