Dempster Highway re-opens, as wildfire still burns next to road

The Dempster Highway was closed Monday evening and into Tuesday at kilometre 284, south of Eagle Plains, due to a large wildfire burning along the east side of the highway.

Drivers may still experience low visibility and delays south of Eagle Plains

The Dempster Highway was closed at kilometre 284 earlier on Tuesday due to wildfires burning along the east side of the highway. (Yukon Wildland Fire Management)

The Yukon government says the Dempster Highway is open again after being closed Monday evening due to a large wildfire burning along the east side of the highway.

The fire is still burning, though, and drivers are being warned of reduced visibility and possible delays.

The fire is burning near kilometre 284 on the Dempster. That's about 85 kilometres south of Eagle Plains.

As of Monday night, it was approximately 600 hectares in size and expected to grow larger, according to a news release from Yukon Wildland Fire Management.

The fire was discovered on Monday afternoon. It was caused by lightning.

The Dempster was closed later that day "as a safety measure due to the location of the fire and its aggressive behaviour," duty officer Kris Johnson said in the news release.

One fire crew, a fire truck and a helicopter are assigned to the fire.

"They are assessing suppression tactics and identifying any values in the area at potential risk," the statement said.

So far they've only found one unoccupied cabin, and they're working to protect it.

Fire officials say drivers should visit for the latest road conditions.

Officials said the Dempster was closed "as a safety measure due to the location of the fire and its aggressive behaviour." Drivers are still being warned about low visibility and possible delays on the highway. (Yukon Wildland Fire Management)

1 of 5 new fires

The fire along the Dempster Highway is one of five new fires that started on Monday. Three were started by lightning in the Northern Tutchone region, and another is in the Klondike region. 

The largest is an 800-hectare fire burning near Pleasant Creek, 116 kilometres east of Mayo. All these fires are in wilderness zones and are expected to "grow significantly." Wildland Fire Management says there are no values at risk.

A fire burning 75 kilometres southwest of Dawson City has also grown, to an estimated 8,500 hectares.

"Due to the size and location of the fire smoky conditions can be expected in Dawson City and the surrounding areas."

Yukon Wildland Fire Management says there were 302 lightning strikes in the territory on Monday, and so patrol flights were being done across the territory on Tuesday. Officials expect to find more active fires.