Mayor of Fort Liard, N.W.T. thankful to have telecommunications again, as wildfire continues to threaten

Fort Liard's community office, photographed November 2023. (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)
Fort Liard's community office, photographed November 2023. (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)

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Fort Liard's mayor, Genevieve McLeod, says she's less stressed Sunday after learning the wildfire threatening her community hadn't moved much closer on Sunday.

According to N.W.T. Fire, the wildfire was still about 19 kilometres from the Dehcho region hamlet as of noon on Sunday.

Fort Liard has been under evacuation notice since Friday. Officially, N.W.T. Fire says the fire is listed as out of control.

McLeod said territorial wildland firefighters had set up extensive sprinklers to prevent the fire from crossing the river toward her community.

McLeod said the fact telecommunications have been restored in Fort Liard are helping as well. Cell service and internet had been restored around midnight, she said.

"That's when my phone blew up," said McLeod.

Highway closures

The highway connecting the community to British Columbia was still closed on both sides of the border as of noon on Sunday, cutting the community off from its main source of supplies.

"We are a little bit worried about the fuel and gas situation and stuff but I'm pretty sure everyone's gassed up at the moment and we're trying our best not to drain any resources that we do have," McLeod said.

McLeod said the highway connecting N.W.T. to Alberta reopened on Saturday, however, and she was confident local gas stations will be able to work with their suppliers to get fuel through that route. That highway closed again on Sunday afternoon however. For the most up to date information, travellers should consult the territory's highway conditions page because the situation can change quickly.

Rose Betthale-Reid, an elder in the community, said she isn't worried about supplies.

"Our two local stores, the general store and the Northern store, still have lots of supplies. I believe ... if we have problems, I think there'll be people from out of town that will be helping us out," she said.

Though it was very smoky in the community Sunday, Betthale-Reid said everyone is "safe and sound."

"It's helping one another that helps us stay calm," she said.