The Government of the Northwest Territories is asking people living along Highway 3 between Yellowknife and kilometre 300 (just past Boundary Creek) to voluntarily evacuate to Yellowknife.

Officials say this is a safety precaution and there is no immediate threat from forest fires. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs estimates about 16-30 households are affected.

Yellowknife's Mayor Mark Heyck says the order is a precautionary measure because of smoke and reduced visibility.

"Essentially Yellowknife Health and Social Services hosts the facility. The city provides the facility. We provide security for the facility. We provide things like cots and in this instance, we have taken one of the fields and set up cots, for anyone who has to spend the night or multiple nights here," he said.

The city says the Field House was chosen because it has kitchen, shower and toilet facilities and an emergency generator.

Strong winds from the northwest were expected to cause heavy smoke and reduced visibility in the Yellowknife area from the 10,000 hectare fire burning 30 km west of the city. 

A reception centre for evacuees has been set up at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse. Evacuees are being asked to register at the Fieldhouse even if they have alternate accommodations. 

Yvonne Doolittle is the Regional Emergency Coordinator for the North Slave Region. She says crews went door to door in the area asking people to leave. But she says many chose to stay put.

She says most people they spoke to are feeling secure and have transportation so if they need to leave they can do so quickly.

"We only had four people register at the reception centre at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse. They are not staying there but they checked in with us."

Doolittle says crews left notices at residences where no one was at home.

It's not clear when the voluntary evacuation order could be lifted.

Government officials stress that Yellowknife is not immediately threatened by this fire.

Thursday morning the city's air quality is back at 10 on the air quality index,meaning it's considered high risk. Wednesday night the air quality was forecasted to exceed the 1-10 scale and hit 20.