N.W.T. Highway 3 fire threatens Internet, cellular service

A wildfire between Fort Providence and Behchoko is threatening to disrupt Internet and cellular service to Yellowknife, says Northwestel.

Road was closed at kilometre 140 for about 7 hours yesterday due to smoke

Smoke from wildfires is reducing visibility on N.W.T. Highways 1 and 3. (Courtesy of Linda Croft)

A wildfire between Fort Providence and Behchoko is threatening to disrupt Internet and cellular service to Yellowknife, says Northwestel.

N.W.T.'s Highway 3 south of Yellowknife was closed on Tuesday to all private and commercial traffiic due to smoke from nearby forest fires. 

The closure was at kilometre 140, between Fort Providence and Behchoko (also known as Rae-Edzo). 

Highway #3 between Fort Providence and Behchoko, also known as Rae-Edzo, will close for about 12 hours today. (GNWT)

The Department of Transportation lifted the closure around 9 p.m. Thursday, warning drivers to proceed with caution. 

Northwestel says one of those fires is threatening telecommunications equipment in the area. 

The company says its crews have prepared redundancy plans to reduce the impact of a fire-related cut. It says it has crews on standby to respond to a cut once it's safe to do so. 

Del Miller, acting regional supervisor of highway operations for the North Slave region, said commercial vehicles that had backed up were escorted through the smoky area earlier Thursday so that necessary supplies, such as fuel for the Yellowknife airport, could get through.

The smoke from two large fires burning near Chan Lake and Birch Lake are causing reduced visibility along the highway.

Miller said smoke along the highway has visibility down to 200 metres at times.

Smoke is also affecting visibility on Highway 1 between Enterprise and Kakisa, and conditions there could change at short notice.