Fire activity along a key Northwest Territories highway is expected to kick up in the coming days, while Mounties say they’ll stop a potentially large group from trying to re-enter when an evacuation order is still in effect.
The territorial government says Highway 1, which links up with Alberta, is open to essential travel but could close without warning due to poor visibility.
It’s expected the highway will close to all traffic between Friday and Sunday due to high winds, meaning there has been a pause on bringing back essential workers not in health care.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Matt Halstead says police have received information that as many as 50 vehicles from Alberta are planning to return before an evacuation order is lifted.
He says it’s not safe to return to any evacuated communities, and anyone who risks the safety of government staff or RCMP officers at checkpoints may be charged.
About 70 per cent of the territory’s population — including some 20,000 residents of the capital, Yellowknife — have been out of their homes for nearly two weeks or more.
Halstead said Wednesday he understands people want to come home.
“But this type of activity has the potential to drain resources and delay the receipt of essential supplies for firefighting efforts,” he said.
“Trying to return to any of these communities en masse would be irresponsible and threatens to exacerbate already difficult conditions.”