Wildfire in Kootenay National Park expands but growing in a 'favourable' direction
Parks Canada said activity on an out of control fire in British Columbia near the Alberta border has spread to an estimated 75 hectares, but it is currently moving in a "favourable" direction.
Lightning is believed to have caused the out of control fire in southern Kootenay National Park earlier this week in the Mitchell Ridge area of the park, approximately two kilometres east of the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint and seven kilometres north of Nipika Mountain Resort.
As of Saturday at 2:30 p.m. that fire had spread to 75 hectares, said Charlie McLellan, fire and vegetation specialist for Parks Canada in Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay.
He added that the fire is spreading toward the northeast, and while they are expecting it to grow further, it has reached the eastern park boundary at Mitchell Ridge.
"The good thing is the direction it's growing has been favourable, and as it hits the top of the ridge line, we see an aspect of fuel type change and that's really slowing down growth there," McLellan said.
He added that the fire highlights just how dry the area is, and how much rain is needed. He added that wind could change the direction of the fire.
"The primary concern continues to be how early we're seeing this type of fire behaviour in these areas. It's certainly abnormal, normally we don't have lightning-ignited fires or see this type of fire growth until the months of July and August."
"The concern is more how early it started and how much summer we have ahead of us."
In a Facebook post, Parks Canada said three helicopters and 16 firefighters are working on containment within the park, focusing on the western flank of the fire as conditions allow.
"Fire activity is expected to increase later today due to hot and dry conditions and increased potential for wind gusts," Parks Canada said.
On Monday cooler temperatures and precipitation are forecasted which would aid fire suppression activities, Parks Canada said.
The fire comes as Alberta's wildfire crisis drags on, and as the return of hot weather threatens to escalate the danger in communities under threat.
Intense wildfires continue to burn across the province, forcing thousands of Albertans from their homes and cloaking communities both near and far from the flames with smoke.
According to Alberta Wildfire's online dashboard, as of 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, 86 wildfires were burning inside Alberta's forest protection zones and 25 are classified as out of control.