Air Rescue Underway Amid Canadian Wildfire

Residents of Hay River, Northwest Territories have been ordered to evacuate and the only way out is by air.

Residents of Hay River, Northwest Territories, in Canada have been ordered to evacuate—and the only way out is by air. [Screenshot: NASA, Fire Information for Resource Management System US/Canada]

Maui is not the only part of the world facing a devastating fire season. Residents of Hay River, Northwest Territories, in Canada have been ordered to evacuate—and the only way out is by air. 

Roads are impassable because of fire, and people are instructed to head to the airport, Hay River authorities said in a statement sent to FLYING.

An Avro RJ100, a four-engine T-tail, was waiting at the airport to carry people to safety. The RJ100 is capable of carrying 110 people. The aircraft will be heading to Fort McMurray in Wood Buffalo in Alberta, Canada.

Other large transport aircraft are also helping with the effort.

This message appeared on the Government of the Northwest Territories Facebook page Monday:

"Any person remaining in Hay River, any person who can message family and friends in Hay River tell them to go to airport now. Do not wait to drive on Highway 2. There are no emergency personnel on Highway 2 who can help you."

The message warns that conditions are dangerous and will continue to worsen, stating, “The highway is not an option as a way out. Emergency personnel cannot operate safely on Highway 2. Emergency services are severely restricted.”

According to a Meta (Facebook) post by Carol Wrigglesworth, "The Northwest Territories are burning. It has had a disastrous fire season. Yesterday, Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, Jean Marie River, Kalodetchee (please forgive the spelling) First Nation, Prelude Lake North, Prosperous Lake North, Enterprise, Fort Smith, Boundary Creek and River Lake have all been evacuated. Two major communities (Hay River and Fort Smith) have had to have people airlifted out. God Bless all of the pilots who did this as visibility was nonexistent."

The fire threatening the community has been burning for several months.

Updates about the evacuation may be found here, or the Town of Hay River Facebook page.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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