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Keeping power on in Yellowknife proves difficult during season's many wildfires

YELLOWKNIFE - Keeping Yellowknife's electricity on is proving to be a challenge during what Northwest Territories Power Corp. calls one of the worst years for wildfires in 30 years.

Company spokeswoman Pam Coulter says a new forest fire knocked out the city's main supply line from its Snare hydro facility on Wednesday.

The utility was able to switch to backup power from diesel generators at Jackfish Lake near Yellowknife, but Coulter says those have only been able to supply limited electricity due to recent lightning damage.

She says the Snare line was reactivated after only a couple of hours, but she says the company is still asking people to conserve power.

Coulter says the line wasn't damaged by the fire — she explains smoke and gasses produced by the fire can cause the line to ground and trip.

The community of Bechoko (BEH-cho-ko), northwest of Yellowknife, continues to operate on backup generators after a fire earlier this week knocked out a branch of the hydro line from the Snare facility.

That fire also caused power interruptions in Yellowknife. Coulter says crews can't get to the line because there's so much smoke.

The Snare hydroelectric dams are located approximately 145 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife.

Smoke from some of the fires continues to force Highway 3, the main route to Yellowknife, to close periodically.

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