YELLOWKNIFE, Canada – About 20,000 people, the entire population of Yellowknife, were ordered to evacuate by noon Friday as a wildfire threatened the city.
The capital city of the Northwest Territories in Canada, Yellowknife, along with surrounding communities was issued an evacuation order as a wildfire is expected to reach the outskirts of the city by the weekend.
"It is critical that all residents obey the Evacuation Order," City of Yellowknife officials said on Thursday. "Fire behavior is expected to increase in the next few days, and there will be a dramatic increase in smoky conditions."
As of Friday afternoon, officials counted 236 active wildfires in the Northwest Territories. The total number of fires for 2023 stands at 269, with more than 8,200 square miles affected.
- Image 1 of 3
- Image 2 of 3
- Image 3 of 3
Footage from Yellowknife captured images of residents fleeing their homes. A line of individuals carrying suitcases could be seen from the road near a local high school, where local officials asked residents evacuating by air to go Thursday.
"There is a possibility that, without rain, the fire reaches the outskirts of Yellowknife by the weekend," NWT Fire officials said. "While rain is in the forecast, there are no guarantees."
On Tuesday, Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Shane Thompson declared a Territorial State of Emergency for the Northwest Territories.
The declaration allows the Government of the Northwest Territories to acquire and deploy the necessary resources to support the management of the wildfire season and protect the health and safety of Northwest Territories residents.