A tragic incident occurred in the Northwest Territories, as a firefighter lost his life while battling a wildfire near his home community. This unfortunate event marks the second time in just a few days that a Canadian firefighter has been killed while on duty during an unprecedented wildfire season.
The government of the Northwest Territories released a statement stating that the firefighter from Fort Liard, a small settlement located north of the British Columbia border, succumbed to injuries sustained while combatting a blaze on Saturday afternoon. The wildfire, which began on July 7 in the Fort Liard District and currently extends about 26 kilometers southeast of the hamlet, has been the focus of the firefighter’s efforts.
Out of respect for the grieving family, no further details about the fallen firefighter have been disclosed at this time. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Coroner’s Office have been notified and are involved in the investigation, as stated by the territorial government.
News of the accident started to circulate in Fort Liard late Saturday afternoon. Initially, community members were unaware of the severity of the incident and were only aware that someone had been injured, without any identification. Mayor Genevieve McLeod revealed that a significant portion of the community gathered at the airport, anticipating the arrival of the helicopter transporting the firefighters involved in the fire. It was then that the devastating news was relayed to everyone present.
Mayor McLeod chose not to reveal the identity of the deceased firefighter, highlighting that he had a large family, some of whom reside in the southern provinces and may not have been informed of the tragedy yet. The mayor described the firefighter as a vital member of their community, emphasizing his youth, work ethic, and the fact that he leaves behind a young family.
Shockingly, this fatality occurred only three days after another Canadian firefighter, Devyn Gale, was killed while battling wildfires. Gale, a 19-year-old, tragically lost her life when a tree fell on her near Revelstoke, British Columbia. Authorities launched an investigation into her death, with the RCMP, BC Coroners Service, WorkSafeBC, and the BC Wildfire Service all participating.
The death of another firefighter has deeply affected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who expressed his profound sadness on Twitter. Trudeau conveyed his condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen firefighter, assuring them that Canadians stand with them during this difficult time.
Fortunately, the wildfire near Fort Liard, currently listed on the territory’s wildfire update website as being caused by lightning and covering an area of 0.1 square kilometers, does not pose a threat to the hamlet.
Shane Thompson, the environment minister for the Northwest Territories and the representative for the affected area, extended his deepest sympathies through a tweet, expressing his respect for firefighters who continue to bravely protect homes and communities despite facing extremely difficult conditions. Thompson acknowledged the unimaginable loss experienced by those who knew the firefighter and emphasized the magnitude of the grief felt by the entire community.
As of Saturday night, the Northwest Territories wildfire agency reported 89 active wildfires throughout the territory. This year alone, over 8,000 square kilometers have been consumed by fires in the region. Across Canada, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre states that more than 100,000 square kilometers have been scorched this season, an area approximately the size of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and Lake Michigan combined.
Jessica Davey-Quantick, the Wildfire Information Officer, explained that inter-provincial and inter-territorial sharing of firefighters is common during a typical wildfire season. However, this year’s extensive fire activity has necessitated a different approach, with numerous firefighters from various regions mobilized to combat blazes across the country.
Firefighters are highly esteemed and respected in the community, as they valiantly protect lives and properties. The public recognizes their selfless dedication and extends heartfelt gratitude for their unwavering efforts to keep communities safe.
In conclusion, the Northwest Territories mourns the loss of a courageous firefighter who tragically lost his life while battling a wildfire near his home community. This heartbreaking incident serves as a somber reminder of the risks firefighters face daily to protect lives and communities. Canadians stand in solidarity with the grieving family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen firefighter, offering support during this challenging time.