Yellowknife Wildfire


Out-of-control wildfires in Canada force all 20,000 residents of Yellowknife to flee

Residents flee Yellowknife, Canada, on Highway 3 after being ordered to evacuate on Wednesday due to a wildfire heading closer to the city.

Pat Kane/Reuters

Some 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and the surrounding areas as the Behchoko/Yellowknife wildfire burns out of control less than 10 miles outside the city. More than 230 active fires are threatening other cities and towns in the region.

The order to evacuate was issued by the minister of municipal and community affairs on Wednesday, forcing Yellowknife and Ingraham Trail residents to flee their homes and businesses by car and plane. Residents of the First Nations communities of N’Dilo and Dettah were also ordered to evacuate. Authorities told residents they have until noon on Friday to evacuate, and that without rain, the inferno could reach the area by the weekend.


Airtankers flew missions throughout Wednesday night to combat the blaze, according to the government’s Department of Environment and climate change. Firefighting crews have been doing their best to put out hot spots, while others tried to protect cabins and other structures around Highway 3, the main road west out of Yellowknife. In the city itself, officials are taking protective measures including turning on sprinklers and creating fuel breaks.

Images of the blaze are heartbreaking. Photos and videos appearing across social media platforms show bumper-to-bumper traffic as residents try to flee the area. Others show vehicles travelling along the highway engulfed in smoke, with smouldering trees lining the roads as they drive toward safety.