N.W.T. Hwy 3 closed as fire expected to cross road

The Department of Transportation says it will not be piloting vehicles through Highway 3 Wednesday night. Department officials say the fire along the road is moving too quickly and has grown in size. They will re-evaluate Thursday morning.

Stretch between Behchoko and Fort Providence closed until at least Thursday morning

On July 16 a live webcam on Highway 3 near Chan Lake, just outside of Behchoko, now shows an area devastated by fire. (GNWT/DOT)

N.W.T. Highway 3 between Behchoko and Fort Providence will remain closed until at least Thursday morning as a large fire near Chan Lake is expected to cross the road.

That section of highway has been closed off and on for several days because of fire and smoke.

"Fire is breaching the highway," says Mike Conway, regional superintendent with the Department of Transportation.

"The winds are from the northwest, which is problematic for where it is right now. Also, ENR (Environment and Natural Resources) crews will be working in that area. But at this time it is not possible for us to escort anyone through the fire."

Today one of the fires near the highway moved approximately 1.6 kilometres in 10 minutes.

Conway says crews expect the fire will cross over the highway in at least two places. 

Bob Mercredi was one of the last people to drive into the city before the highway barricades went up. He spent Tuesday night in his car outside Fort Providence. When the road opened briefly on Wednesday, the former firefighter drove past a 40-kilometre stretch of smouldering forest. 

"There would be mostly burn, then a little green, and then some more burn," he said. "It was unreal. I haven't seen anything like that."​

Conway says government officials will re-evaluate whether the highway should reopen Thursday morning. He says Transportation crews will have to survey the area to ensure there's no damage before any vehicles are allowed to pass.