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Yellowknife phased re-entry plan announced

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The City of Yellowknife and the Government of the Northwest Territories announced a phased re-entry plan after it was announced the Behchoko/Yellowknife fire is considered held on Monday.

While the city remains under an evacuation order, the territorial government said the phased re-entry plan to ensure residents can return to their homes safely. However, the city said it needs to ensure critical services, such as health care and essential businesses, are in place before residents return.

“This is awesome news and we are happy to hear this,” said Yellowknife’s city manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett.

“We know there are a lot of factors that are going into declaring our communities safe for people to return … We’re supportive of the framework and we’re pleased that our residents have an idea on what to expect.”

According to the Road to Re-entry plan posted by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GWNT), phase one will start when Department of Environment and Climate Change wildfire experts deem the city safe from the fire.

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Once the municipal government analyzes the risk to the community, city staff will advise residents when it is safe to enter the community to check for damage.

After that, essential staff for critical services will be allowed to return to re-establish basic and essential services. These include water, sewage, as well as health care, hotels, gas stations, grocery stores and other services deemed essential by the GWNT.

Residents will be allowed to return home after this phase, either by air or by road.

The GWNT said it is planning for essential staff for critical services to be able to return to the community now that the fire is considered held.

Municipal and Community Affairs Minister James Bost said the government does not have a date when residents can return home.

“So much of this emergency has been unpredictable and out of control,” Bost said at Monday’s news conference.

“It is not yet time to head for home … By giving you a sense of what will happen when the time comes, you will be prepared to return home.

“We recognize the timing of (these phases) will look different from one community to another.”

According to the GNWT, there are currently 241 active wildfires as of Monday. To date, 277 fires have burned in the territory with a total of 2,968,679 hectares burned.

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Wildfire Information Officer Jessica Davey-Quantick said Monday no new fires have started in the past 24 hours, and several fires in the territory are considered held.

“That is good news. It’s not the best news until the fires are under control and we can go home,” Davey-Quantick said.

“However, this does not mean the danger has passed. The evacuation order remains and until that is lifted it’s not safe for anyone who has been evacuated to return home.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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