Evacuation order, alerts issued for Mayo and other areas in Yukon due to nearby wildfire

Evacuation over wildfire

Residents of the Village of Mayo are under an evacuation order and others in central Yukon are under an alert as a wildfire inches closer to the small communities.

The Yukon Emergency Measures Organization says it issued the evacuation order for Mayo, located just over 400 kilometres north of Whitehorse, at 1 p.m. Sunday due to hazards to life posed by the Talbot Creek wildfire burning about seven kilometres south of the village.

About two hours later, the organization issued an evacuation alert for the Village of Keno and Hecla Mine, located slightly north of Mayo, saying they are not under threat of the same wildfire but should be prepared to leave if the flames come closer.

The order in Mayo covers all properties from kilometres 35 to 66 along Yukon Highway 11, known as the Silver Trail.

"Evacuating a community of any size is never easy," said fire information officer Mike Fancie with the Government of Yukon. "Everybody in Mayo is doing the best they can under the circumstances."

Fancie said this year's wildfire season has been a challenge in the past few weeks for the territory due to weather conditions and lightning strikes.

"We've had a lot of new ignitions that in many cases we've been successful at targeting from an initial attack," he said. "But, in some cases, we haven't been able to either due to a shortage of resources, or due to the fact that it just wasn't feasible for us to attack those fires once they were reported. They were either too big or too remote."

Fancie said emergency personnel including the RCMP are involved in expediting the evacuation, and people are being asked to report to either the Mayo Community Hall or the Na-Cho Nyak Dun Government Office.

The village's website says the community averages around 450 residents. A post from Yukon Protective Services on Saturday says the territory has been experiencing widespread smoky conditions due to wildfire activity.

The evacuation order comes a day after the community was placed on an evacuation alert as the Talbot Creek wildfire crept less than 10 kilometres to the community's south, and was "highly visible" from the village.

"We're in a situation where the lightning is tapered off and now it's hot and dry and it's a difficult combination as a fire management agency to look at one after the other," Fancie said.

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