Gateway Gazette

Kenow Fire Update – Unified Command – 14.09.2017; 11:30

The Kenow Fire still remains active and is classified as out of control. The fire is estimated at approximately 36,000 hectares. Our priorities are to ensure the safety of crews working in the area, protect infrastructure and values, and prevent the spread of the active fire with suppression tactics and containment lines. Helicopters and other aircraft continue to conduct aerial suppression tactics in the area. The Kenow Fire did not demonstrated any growth over night. The townsite itself and the values within it are not considered to be at risk at this time. We are working closely with provincial and local partners and emergency management organizations to contain this wildfire and protect key infrastructure and resources.

Our current priorities are:

–        Continuing protection of values and infrastructure;

–        Working to establish containment of the fire in strategic locations;

–        On-going assessment of impacted values and infrastructure;

–        Restoration of key infrastructure to prepare for re-entry.

WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOUR…
·        The fire received 6 millimetres of rain overnight. Despite this precipitation, intense fire behaviour is still possible in these dry conditions.

·        Cooler temperature and precipitation are providing some relief. The situation remains a serious one with significant effort required, however forecasted weather conditions are turning in our favour and are expected to reduce the likelihood of growth or new fire development.

·        We expect the fire burned deeply due to the critically dry vegetation.

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK…
We wish to remind the public that the Kenow Fire is still active in the area and within the park boundaries. Please note that the Evacuation Oder is still in effect and the park remains closed to all incoming traffic except emergency vehicles and authorized personnel. Even though the townsite is not under immediate threat, there are risks due to the active fire nearby and ongoing fire operations. Community members should not attempt to return to the area until advised by Parks Canada Agency.

The detailed assessment of infrastructure and facilities is underway and will be available as soon as it is completed. We will be providing additional information regarding the status of infrastructure around the townsite as soon as possible. In the coming weeks, Parks Canada will inform the public once it has determined whether the entry of community and business owners within the park is safe. The high intensity of the fire has severely impacted the landscape within the park. As a result, many areas will remain unsafe.

Our thoughts are with those impacted by the Kenow Fire as well as with the teams working hard to respond to these fires.

CASTLE BRANCH FIRE SUPRESSION

The area of fire within the Castle drainage is at 500 hectares. As of last night, the wildfire was burning on the west side of Sage Mountain and in the adjacent saddle areas. Fire behaviour yesterday was much less aggressive than previous days. Helicopters were bucketing on the wildfire however the airtankers were unable to fly on the fire yesterday due to poor visibility conditions. Heavy equipment completed the dozer guard according to the containment strategy.  The fire was very active on the BC side of the border where the weather was warmer and drier than on the Alberta side. Weather conditions and visibility are preventing aerial action on the fire this morning. This wildfire is about 23 kilometres from Castle Mountain Resort and 30 kilometres from Beaver Mines. For more information, visit wildfire.alberta.ca or call 1-866-FYI-FIRE at 1-866-394-3473.

WHAT’S OPEN AND CLOSED…

·        Waterton Lakes National Park is Closed: www.parkscanada.ca/waterton-kenow-fire  Waterton Lakes National Park will be closed until we can assure it is safe to reopen. A safety assessment and any required work will be completed before the park is reopened.

·        Calgary Forest Protection Area south of Highway 532 is Closed: http://srd.web.alberta.ca/calgary-area-update

Stay up-to-date through Waterton Lakes National Park’s website, facebook page and twitter feed. Additional information about wildfires in the national mountain parks is available at www.parkscanada.ca/fire

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