Fire equipment ‘demobilizing’ from Highway 5 as Fort Smith, N.W.T., residents plan their return

Wildfire crews who have been working to secure Highway 5 to Fort Smith, N.W.T., are now demobilizing their equipment, according to Parks Canada.

In its Sunday update, the parks service said the perimeter of the wildfire along that highway is now considered to be controlled, which means it won’t spread any further. 

The highway will reopen at 6 a.m. Monday morning, so residents can return as soon as the evacuation order for Fort Smith lifts. People returning can expect speed reductions around areas where crews are present, and RCMP patrolling to enforce speed limits.

Adam McNab, Fort Smith’s director of protective services, said Sunday that the wildfire risk to Fort Smith and the highway is now deemed low, with “very little risk of it moving beyond where it is now.”

He said essential workers have been working to make sure services are back up and running for when people return, and grocery stores have been receiving food deliveries.

According to McNab, the hospital’s emergency room is nearly operational, and the town expects other hospital services to be back online soon.

“The RCMP is back in town, the post office is making its way back, the bank is almost ready to go. So most services will be ready for people as they return, or shortly into this week,” he said.

“[I’m] definitely excited to see people back. It’s a hard time of year to be away from homes and communities, with school starting and all those kinds of fall activities.”

In the Thebacha area, Parks Canada said crews built a new dozer guard Saturday to help contain fire activity along Foxholes road, and are eyeing ignition operations to head off fire near Thebacha.

Meanwhile, around Fort Fitzgerald, crews spent Saturday working to suppress active fire to the south.

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