OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the wildfire crisis in the Northwest Territories, local media reported. Mass evacuation of areas in the territory is ongoing, including the capital city of Yellowknife, the territory’s largest community with a population of more than 20,000. Residents were ordered to leave by noon Friday.
The territory government said Thursday on its website that only residents who do not have the option to evacuate by car are asked to register for flights and that residents with health concerns and a higher risk of severe outcomes are encouraged to register for an evacuation flight to avoid worsening air quality. The Canadian Armed Forces said Thursday on social media that they are in Yellowknife and have hit the ground running to provide support and help protect communities from wildfires.
The territory government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and issued the evacuation order on Wednesday in response to out-of-control wildfires. Local media reported that the wildfires could reach the outskirts of Yellowknife by the weekend. According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, there were around 1,000 active forest fires in Canada as of Thursday, 236 of which were burning in the Northwest Territories.