Media Tip Sheet: Residents Scramble to Evacuate Canada’s Yellowknife Amid Approaching Wildfire Threat

August 18, 2023

firefighter fighting wildfire


The deadline for residents to evacuate Yellowknife, Canada is quickly approaching, as officials in the Northwest Territories scramble to help nearly 20,000 people flee an approaching wildfire. According to The Washington Post, authorities have urged everyone to leave by Friday noon local time as the flames could reach closer to the city by the weekend. Fire officials say the evacuation efforts are another example of the kind of severe wildfire season the region is facing. 

GW's Robert Orttung

Robert Orttung is a research professor of international affairs at the George Washington University and the director of research at Sustainability GW. Orttung is leading two National Science Foundation grants focused on promoting urban sustainability in the Arctic and is serving as the editor of the forthcoming Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities.

This summer, Orttung joined a cohort of GW faculty and staff, alongside a couple of other institutions, for a research trip to Yellowknife, where he and the team went to measure the level of urban sustainability in this northern city. The trip was part of a much larger research project examining urban sustainability among Arctic cities. Part of the effort was also aimed at understanding the relationship between the city and surrounding Indigenous communities.

Orttung has also published research in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction regarding communications during wildfires. Orttung and his co-authors explore how fire communicators can best convey risk and crisis information to meet growing concerns about wildfire impacts among a diverse audience of residents.

If you would like to speak with Prof. Orttung, please contact GW Media Relations Specialist Cate Douglass at [email protected].