After briefly reopening Highway 3 Saturday morning, the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation promptly closed it again.

“The fire was shooting above the tree tops and it sounded like a jet engine,” Del Miller, regional manager of highway operations told the CBC News Sunday morning. “The fellows in the area said they’ve never seen a fire like that. Smoke was a problem; visibility was a problem.”

The fire, just south of Chan Lake, has left a 13 kilometre strip of charred forest from kilometre 97 to kilometre 110 along the highway between Bechoko and Fort Providence — the main artery connecting southern Canada to Yellowknife.

Miller says the department will open the road, even if just for a short window, in order to make sure goods and people can still get through to the capital. 

The road closure, Miller says, left about 30 vehicles stranded on either end of the blockade.

Road closure traffic on highway 3

A gas station along N.W.T.'s Highway 3. The road closure left about 30 vehicles stranded on either end of the highway. (Randall Mackenzie/CBC)

At least one business owner decide to give people a break.

Gina Mikula owns Captain’s Cabins and Bridge-Less Lodging on the south side of the Deh Cho Bridge, a retirement project she launched with her husband as a way to stay in the area after a long career with the Merv Hardie Ferry.

Mikula offered a 50 per cent discount to people who were stranded.

“Having travelled myself with children, I know how frustrating it can be and I also was caught in a fire one time in Alaska, so I just thought, ‘Oh, the poor little kids are going to get so hot, they’re going to have no room to run around.’ You know, and the parents are going to get frustrated.”

She says it turned into a nice evening, partly because the kitchen in the lodge is shared by the three cabins.