The evacuation of Yellowknife, the region’s capital, is by far the largest this year, said Ken McMullem, chief of Canada’s fire services.
The fire broke out on Friday just 15 kilometers from the city. Authorities warn that strong winds from the north could push the flames toward the only open highway.
Dozens of flights from the city
Yellowknife residents have until Friday afternoon before the fire hits the city.
Thousands of people fled the region on Thursday, traveling hundreds of kilometers on the only open highway to reach safety.
In addition, ten flights carrying 1,500 passengers left the Yellowknife airport on Thursday, with another 22 departures, or an additional 1,800 passengers, scheduled for Friday.
Record number of fires this year
– I want to make it clear that the city is not in immediate danger and that there are safe options to escape by car or plane, said Shane Thompson, Minister for the region, during a press conference.
– Without rain, it is possible that the fire could spread around the city by the weekend.
The fire is not the only concern of the authorities. The thick smoke is also why people are being asked to evacuate, Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said Thursday evening.
This year, Canada experienced a record number of forest fires. More than 5,700 fires have ravaged more than 137,000 square kilometers.
– Not allowed to increase flight prices
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a meeting with the task force responsible for managing the fire. He asked the authorities to keep all communication channels available.
In addition, Trudeau emphasizes that there is zero tolerance towards those who increase the prices of plane tickets or important goods, in order to take advantage of the crisis.
“Tv guru. Analyst. Lifelong alcohol junkie. Friendly bacon specialist. Twitter nerd.”