Hwy 3 fire again threatens cellphone, internet to Yellowknife

Forest fires closed N.W.T. Highway 3 again Friday afternoon, and are again threatening telecommunications service to Yellowknife.

Fire burning right on top of Northwestel fibre optic line

Forest fires closed N.W.T. Highway 3 again Friday afternoon, and they are also once again threatening telecommunications service to Yellowknife.

Highway 3 is closed between Behchoko and Fort Providence at kilometres 108 to 114. 

Joseph Parsch posted this video of a drive along Highway 3 shortly before the road was closed:

(Click here to view on mobile.)

Northwestel says one of the fires near Highway 3 is burning right on top of its fibre optics line to the capital.

So far there's no damage, but the company says it is keeping an eye on it and making plans to re-route phone and internet services if need be.

"There is some concern there that if the fire does burn hot enough or burn long enough that it could damage that equipment," said Northwestel spokesperson Eric Clement.

"So at this point, there isn't an imminent risk, but we are taking precautions, and we are keeping an eye on things."

Clement says technicians have covered aboveground equipment with sand and gravel to protect it from the flames.

He says if the line is damaged, the company will redirect bandwidth from elsewhere so that Yellowknife customers don't lose service entirely, but he warns that internet and phone connections could be slow.

The N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported two new fires Friday. It says one northeast of Yellowknife is of concern.

"There is a fire that started near Pensive Lake, about 58 clicks northeast of Yellowknife," said spokesperson Judy McLinton. 

"We do have two crews in there that are initial attacking it. They are working that fire."

McLinton says if the fire were to grow it could pose a threat to Highway 4, also known as the Ingraham Trail.

The other new fire is northeast of Lutselk'e and McLinton says it poses no risk to the community.