It remains unclear when residents in the Northwest Territories’ South Slave region will be allowed to return home, but officials are set to open pre-registration for re-entry flights in anticipation.
Jay Boast, an information officer with the territory’s Emergency Management Organization, says online and phone pre-registration for flights is set to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday for wildfire evacuees from the communities of Hay River, Enterprise and K’atl’odeeche First Nation.
Boast says the process will allow officials to develop passenger lists, which will help identify appropriate transportation needs.
He says pre-registration is set to close on Thursday at 8 p.m.
An evacuation order was issued for the 3,500 residents of Hay River, as well as Enterprise and K’atl’odeeche First Nation, on Aug. 13, three days before people in Yellowknife were ordered to leave.
Yellowknife’s evacuation order was lifted Wednesday, but wildfire information officer Mike Westwick warns that no return is risk-free, noting there was a significant amount of smoke in the area on Sunday.
“It is a state of needing to live with fire, and that is a reality that many communities have faced and will need to face as we move forward through this wildfire season,” Westwick said during a wildfire briefing Monday.
The Town of Hay River said later Monday that council was updated on the status of the nearby fire and the containment progress.
Citing an elevated fire risk, the town said it isn’t activating Phase 1 of its re-entry plan yet and will review the situation again on Tuesday.
The first phase of the plan involves bringing back essential workers to join firefighters and critical support people.
As part of the second phase, residents of Hay River would be allowed back home after essential workers completed their preparations.
Mayor Kandis Jameson had said on Friday that if all goes well, residents could be home within 10 days.
Meanwhile, Shane Thompson, the minister of municipal and community affairs, has renewed the territory’s state of emergency again.
The state of emergency was declared on Aug. 15 and was renewed for once before on Aug. 29.
It was originally declared to allow the territorial government to acquire and deploy the necessary resources to fight the wildfires.