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Parks Canada issues evacuation alert for Waterton

Tuesday, 05 September 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Parks Canada issues evacuation alert for Waterton
Photo taken on the Gladstone Valley Road   Photo by Brenda Shenton

Parks Canada issues evacuation alert for Waterton

Waterton Lakes National Park was placed under an evacuation alert as of 6:26 Tuesday evening, as the wildfire burning in British Columbia’s Flathead Valley has expanded into the northwestern corner of the national park in Alberta near Sage Pass.

According to Parks Canada, the evacuation alert is a pre-emptive action as there is no immediate threat.

In case of an evacuation

Those affected are encouraged to prepare essential items, such as medications, important documents, keepsakes and photographs. Firewood, propane tanks and other burnables should be relocated away from homes.

A plan, transportation and a muster point to meet with family or co-workers should be designated in case of separation if an evacuation is called.

Accommodation should be arranged if possible, but in the case of an evacuation, reception centres will be opened if necessary.

Residents of Waterton will be contacted by phone or by park staff if an evacuation is ordered. In the event of an evacuation, residents must vacate the park within one hour of formal notice. RCMP and Parks Canada wardens will be on-site to provide security during the evacuation period.

Entrance to the park will be closed to public traffic and admittance to evacuated areas will be permitted only for emergency vehicles.

By Monday evening, about half a hectare was burning in the popular tourist destination and Parks Canada responded with two helicopters targeting the spot fires.

“A Parks Canada national incident management team is on site in the national park, along with three initial attack crews and five helicopters,” said John Stoesser, Parks Canada communications officer.

“The fire management team is assessing containment options, and crews are working on facility protection, using water pumps and sprinklers,” he said a statement.

The fire was first spotted by Parks Canada from the sky on Saturday. It was reported that the fire in the Kishinena Creek area in B.C. was about five hectares in size, but due to continued heat and dry weather with periods of high winds, the fire spread east towards the national park.

According to Parks Canada, the Kenow Mountain fire has expanded over 4,500 hectares.

Provincial parks also affected

On holiday Monday, Alberta Parks evacuated Chinook Provincial Recreation Area and Livingstone Falls amongst others in the Calgary Forest Area — zones 1 to 3.

In a Facebook post, Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips stated the wildfire conditions in these areas “are well past the extreme level.”

“In these conditions, wildfires can move very fast, and embers can create new fires several kilometres away,” she wrote. “Forecasts indicate a new fire can reach up to 45 hectares in size in under an hour.”

Lynx Creek campgrounds, the Castle provincial parks, and the Oldman River North Provincial Recreation Area and Group Camp are included in the park closures.

Castle Mountain Resort released a statement Monday noting the fire in B.C. is still about 20 kilometres away from the resort and a full-scale evacuation is not being considered. However, the closure of the Castle provincial parks does have implications for those who call the resort home.

Those who reside at the resort full time will be allowed access to their home by permit only and overnight stays are permitted. Meanwhile, those with recreational properties can apply for a permit and will be granted limited access — five consecutive hours every 72 hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Permits can be obtained through Pincher Creek Emergency Services or the Blairmore ranger station with proof of residence.

The closures in the Calgary Forest Area and Waterton will remain in place until further notice. For a full list of Alberta Parks closures visit www.albertaparks.ca.