The NWT government says the highway from Enterprise down into Alberta remains open, having earlier warned it could close to southbound traffic at a moment’s notice.
Shortly before 9pm on Monday, the territory’s Department of Infrastructure said there had been “no change” to the highway’s status.
Residents of a rural area of northern Alberta spent Monday using the northbound highway to evacuate into the Northwest Territories, on provincial government instructions, to escape a nearby wildfire.
“Everyone in the area of Indian Cabins in Mackenzie County must evacuate immediately,” the Alberta government told residents at 11am on Monday.
“Evacuees must travel north via Highway 35 to the Northwest Territories,” a posted advisory read. “Evacuees must contact Mackenzie County to register at 780-927-3718.”
The territorial government added Highway 1 connecting the NWT to Alberta “may close within a few hours southbound at Enterprise due to forest fires.” By 9pm, no such closure had taken place.
However, the Alberta government told travellers: “Highway and wildfire conditions are being closely monitored, and the highway may be closed without warning if conditions change or safe travel is no longer possible. Follow all posted signs and directions of local authorities.”
The wildfire in question is listed as 47,388 hectares in size by the Alberta government, and is considered out of control.
Smoke from the fire triggered an air quality advisory in the South Slave on Monday, with the effects also being felt in Yellowknife and the North Slave.
“All evacuees should ensure they bring medication, blankets, sleeping bags, personal items and identification when they evacuate,” the Alberta government stated.
South Slave communities such as Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation recently welcomed evacuees from the High Level wildfire. Residents of High Level were allowed to begin returning home at the start of June.