Banff’s Sunshine Village clearing out guests as crews tackle nearby wildfire

CALGARY — A popular Rocky Mountain resort in Banff National Park was preparing Thursday to move out its guests to make way for crews fighting a wildfire raging in the nearby backcountry.

Sunshine Village, a ski hill that also offers summer hiking on the Alberta-B.C. boundary, was about 2 1/2 kilometres from the flames, but was not under threat.

However, about 150 people staying at Sunshine’s hotel were being told they would have to leave by midday Friday, said resort spokeswoman Kendra Scurfield.

Parks Canada incident commander Rick Kubian said the property was being set up as a staging area for firefighters because it provides better access to the Verdant Creek fire, which covered 25 to 30 square kilometres in Kootenay National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in B.C.

That means the area will be busy with heavy equipment and helicopters. The air could also become more smoky.

“It’s a much closer location and we’ll be able to have our crews and equipment working from around the Sunshine area,” Kubian said. “It’s just much safer to have that happen without visitors and guests in the area.”

There were 75 people and six helicopters fighting the fire on Thursday as it spread into a remote and rugged area about 25 kilometres from the town of Banff.

Kubian said the fire itself was not posing any immediate risk to guests at Sunshine, but Parks Canada asked the resort to clear guests with enough notice so that they could leave in an orderly fashion.

“It’s not panicked. It’s not in a hurry,” he said.

Scurfield said the hotel’s 84 rooms were fully booked and Sunshine was working to find alternative accommodations in the area. The hotel’s website said it expected the closure to last two to five days.

“Our No. 1 priority is making sure that they are able to contain the fire and work together with Parks Canada to do so.”

The resort understands why firefighters need to use it as a staging area, said Scurfield.

“They’ve got very steep mountains, very narrow valleys, and it’s been hard to put firefighters on the ground, so that has been a challenge in fighting it.”

Hiking trails in Sunshine Meadows have not been damaged and there is no threat to buildings at the resort, which includes restaurants and a day lodge in addition to the hotel.

“Parks has done a great job at preventing the fire from spreading into our area. They fought hard to prevent that.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s 2017-2021 council sworn in

Mayor and council ready to serve for the next four years

Red Deer’s Salvation Army vehicles vandalized twice in six weeks

Police investigating Sept. 10 and Oct. 21 incidents

Update: More details released of fatal police-involved shooting near Alix

ASIRT says man rammed police car, injured officer

Influenza vaccine clinics get started across Red Deer, Central Alberta

Clutching stuffed animals they got from the Calgary Zoo, Owen and Alton… Continue reading

Replay: Red Deer

Watch the highlights from this week

Montreal prepares for “Cohen Week” as first anniversary of singer’s death looms

Three sets of crumbling concrete steps have just been fixed heading into… Continue reading

Montreal prepares for “Cohen Week” as first anniversary of singer’s death looms

His soulful poetry, distinctive baritone and knack for writing runaway hit songs… Continue reading

Sylvan’s talent on display for fundraising show

Sylvan Lake Refugee Project is hosting Sylvan’s Got Talent Nov. 3

B.C. ice rink where 3 people died remains closed due to safety concerns

FERNIE, B.C. — Residents who were forced from their homes because of… Continue reading

Trudeau condemns appointment of Mugabe as WHO ambassador

EDMONTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the appointment of Zimbabwe President… Continue reading

Friday Oct. 21: Winning Lotto Numbers

Friday, October 20, 2017 LOTTO MAX Winning Numbers 1 4 12 27… Continue reading

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month