Lightning sparks dozens of forest fires in Yukon, Canada

(ORDO NEWS) — Wildfires are breaking out across Yukon, according to the fire department’s information department, as lightning strikes the ground and the heat is unbearable.

Mike Fancy of the Yukon Fire Department says there have been about 20 fires a day since the long weekend, bringing the total to 155 fires this year, burning 45,000 hectares.

Fancy called the proportion of fires caused by lightning a “staggeringly high” of 97 percent, compared to about 70 percent in a typical year, with the rest of the fires caused by humans.

More than 3,000 lightning strikes were recorded on Monday alone, 484 of which were positive, raising the risk of fire, he said.

“The huge amount of lightning and new fires over the past few days completely crossed out this statistic,” he said.

“The Yukon is now facing an unprecedented level of lightning-driven wildfire activity.”

The fires came after Environment Canada issued a heat warning for much of the area, with fires and floods triggering evacuation warnings in several areas. Numerous highway closures also affect transportation and access to communities.

The Yukon Emergency Response Organization issued a new evacuation warning for Silver Trail and surrounding areas on Tuesday. On Saturday, the campsite on Lake Ethel was evacuated.

Of particular concern is the Crystal Creek fire in the central Yukon, which has grown to 2,500 hectares and forced the evacuation of residents of Stuart Crossing, 15 kilometers from the city. The fire also forced the closure of part of the Klondike Highway, an important transportation link between Whitehorse, Dawson and Mayo.

Meanwhile, flood warnings have been in effect for areas around Teslin Lake and the Yukon River near Carmax since last week.

Many of these problems are caused by the so-called Rex block weather system, which occurs when a high-pressure system sits on top of a low-pressure system and brings occasional thunderstorms, Fancy said.

“Why this is bad for us is because these are very stable weather conditions. So when a high pressure ridge is positioned above us in this way, it invariably means that we can expect these weather conditions for a long period of time, which is what happens. “, – he said.

Forecasters predict a drop in temperature on Friday and Saturday, but it is too early to count on this, he said.

The Yukon has already generated additional support through mutual assistance agreements with British Columbia.

There were 104 active fires there on Tuesday, up from 36 on the same date last year. The total area burned by Tuesday morning was 42,979 hectares, up from 27,492 hectares in 2021, he said.
Environment Canada also issued a heat warning for most of the area on Tuesday, urging residents to drink plenty of water and look for cooler places.

Temperatures are expected to reach 28 C with overnight lows of 13 C. The warning applies to Whitehorse, Old Crow, Dawson and other areas in the central, southern and western parts of the territory.

This comes after Haynes Junction, Carmax and Teslin set daily temperature records on Monday, with temperatures hovering around 30C.

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