ALBERTA

Banff Wildfire Continues To Burn Out-Of-Control

07/15/2015 10:44 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT
Parks Canada
Hot, dry weather has meant a busy wildfire season so far in Alberta but recent rains and more in the forecast are providing a welcome change for firefighters.

Geoffrey Driscoll, a wildfire information officers, says the cooler, wet weather has allowed firefighters to really dig in and try to contain and put out new fires as quickly as possible.

Driscoll says the number of out-of-control wildfires is now way down from where it was, thanks to the changing weather.

He says they are making real progress but adds there is still a long way to go in this fire season.

With the season just halfway over, he says there has already been 5,000 square kilometres of land burned across Alberta.

He says that's definitely up from last year and is even higher than the five-year average.

“For the past couple of weeks almost all of our fires have been caused by lightning,” explains Driscoll. “We really haven’t had any human caused wildfires recently but before that, certainly in the spring, it was all human caused wildfires.”

He adds that if we get more dry hot conditions, another fire ban could come into effect.

The news isn't as good in Alberta's national parks, where fires are the jurisdiction of the federal government and are managed by Parks Canada.

An out-of-control wildfire in Banff National Park that started out small on Tuesday had grown on Wednesday to three square kilometres in size.

Ray Schmidt, fire communication officer with Banff National Park, says the blaze is burning in a remote area on the north slopes of Snarl Peak, about 80 kilometres from the Banff townsite.

Schmidt says fire crews from Banff, Mount Revelstoke-Glacier and Prince Albert national parks are fighting the fire and have also set up sprinklers to protect a small warden’s cabin and cultural site in the area, and hope to prevent its spread down the Clearwater River valley onto provincial lands.

Meanwhile, a fire that's been burning for about a week in the picturesque Maligne Valley of Jasper National Park is still listed as out of control.

Parks Canada says crews are making progress on containing priority areas of the fire, and there is no threat to people or facilities.

However, the federal department says parts of Maligne Valley will be reopened on Thursday morning, including the Maligne Hostel, Maligne Canyon facilities and some trails.

A fire ban remains in effect for Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National parks.

(CHED, CHQR, The Canadian Press)

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