Smoke along an NWT highway on August 16, 2023. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio
Highway 1 will close between the Alberta border and the Kakisa access road at 7pm on Friday, the NWT’s Department of Infrastructure says.
Officials have spent days warning that the road is likely to remain closed all weekend because of forecast high winds and the likely consequences for wildfires in the area.
Both fire and smoke could make the road impossible to safely navigate.
A plan to send essential workers back to Yellowknife has been postponed because of the concern, stalling the city’s reopening after more than two weeks under an evacuation order.
Fire crews say the winds will also challenge defences around the South Slave communities of Fort Smith and Hay River.
Highway 1 is “open to essential travel” as of Friday morning but will close at 7pm, the department wrote, after which “GNWT staff will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
“Travel is highly discouraged during this time,” the department added.
Highways 2, 5 and 6 remain closed except for use by first responders and supply vehicles where access is granted.
Highway 3 is open to southbound traffic but closed to northbound traffic beyond Behchokǫ̀.
“Essential traffic – such as first responders, trucks carrying fuel and groceries and approved essential staff – will be allowed to travel northbound into Yellowknife only when Highway 1 is open,” the department stated.