Crews have repaired a section of Highway 3 that melted yesterday when fires jumped the road near Chan Lake between Edzo and Fort Providence. 

"Our guess of what happened is the fire got so hot it melted the chipseal and the accompanying winds blew the gravel that was below it away," said Michael Conway, regional superintendent with the Department of Transportation.

"We actually had a fairly large depression there in the northbound lane."

Highway crews from Fort Providence began repairs at 5:30 a.m. Conway says crews also had to clean up fallen trees, as well some road signs that were damaged.

NWT highway map

Highway 3 between Yellowknife and Behchoko (which comprises Rae and Edzo) was closed for about 7 hours Monday night due to fires. (GNWT)

​Highway 3 — the main highway route from the capital to the rest of the country — has been closed intermittently between Edzo and Fort Providence several times and remains closed today due to heavy smoke. 

The worst forest fire season in 30 years moved closer to the capital overnight when a fire started just 20 kilometres outside of Yellowknife, causing transportation officials to close the Highway 3 between Yellowknife and Behchoko overnight. That portion of the road re-opened early this morning. 

Conway says a number of fires started overnight near the road. Fire crews worked all night to get the fires under control. 

Highway 3 fire

Fire burns near Highway 3 between Fort Providence and Edzo. (GNWT)

He says some traffic from both the north and south sides has gotten through the highway today. When the smoke subsides, highway patrol units will escort 20 or 30 vehicles through. He said priority is not given to certain vehicles and it's not possible to predict when the road will reopen. 

The manager of the Yellowknife Co-op store says it has no plans to fly supplies in; enough trucks have been getting through and the store is stocked up on supplies such as milk. 

The fire risk in the territory remains high today, with more lightning in the forecast. Most of the fires have been caused by lightning striking dry, hot forest. 

The Northwest Territories' Department of Transportation says it will continue to offer updates by Twitter.

Smoke billows over Highway 3

A shot of smoke billowing over Highway 3 between Fort Providence and Rae. (GNWT)