Reid Lake Evacuation Underway

Update 6:00 p.m. Wednesday Aug 5. 

As a large wildfire continues to encroach on Reid Lake, campers and cabin owners have begun evacuating the area and retrieving what they can from their cabins.

Last night’s announcement that the fire was only four kilometres away from the lake prompted Jim Sparling to drive to his cabin to remove some of his possessions.

He said his cabin — located on the south side of the lake — wasn’t in imminent danger, but the campground and two other cabins on the northeast side of the lake were under more serious threat.

“I took out a couple of things, but I’m on the south shore, and it’s all burning down on the north shore, and heading away from my place,” Sparling said, adding that sprinklers have been set on the cabins, and that bombers and helicopters were working through the night.

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Early Wednesday afternoon, EDGE spoke with cabin owners Violet and Robert Collinson, who were driving back into town after retrieving their boat from the lake. As with Sparling, GNWT officials had called them Tuesday night, but the couple were having more trouble accessing their cabin, which they’ve owned for 14 years, to retrieve their possessions.

“It’s all boat access, so it’s not like you can drive out there and pick everything up,” said Violet. Because of the low water levels, the couple has been unable to pull their boat right up to the dock, which would have meant wading through the water to bring possessions from the house to the boat. Because of this, they decided to leave most of their stuff at the cabin. “People’s lungs aren’t worth picking up a few trinkets and sleeping bags.”

“Of course we’re worried, but what can you do? People’s lives are more important,” said Robert.

Since June, the couple has been watching the fires getting closer to Reid Lake on the NWT Fire Map. But this Monday was when the situation became serious. The Collinsons left during the day, but Violet says she heard from a neighbour that by Monday night, a helicopter was flying around Reid Lake, hovering above cabins and pushing people to prepare for evacuation.

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