File photo

Officials hopeful cooler, wet weather will slow wildfire north of Banff National Park

Cause of fire under investigation

BANFF, Alta. — Crews battling an out-of-control wildfire that’s been growing north of Banff National Park are hopeful that cooler temperatures and a wet forecast will make their jobs easier.

The blaze was detected Friday near Black Rock Mountain just north of the park, and was about 676 hectares in size by Sunday afternoon, fanned by strong winds.

But Alberta wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather says conditions were favourable for a controlled burn of about 50 hectares late Saturday, removing some of the fuel in the path of the flames.

Fairweather says the fire was also heading up the mountain where there are fewer trees, and he says temperatures have dropped and there was rain in the forecast for Sunday night.

No communities or buildings are currently threatened.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“It’s been a very quiet wildfire season, relatively speaking. Most of our fires occur in May and we didn’t see a lot of that this year. Most of that was due to the wet weather we saw early in the season,” Fairweather said.

He said usually by this time of year there have been around 1,200 fires that have burned around 400,000 hectares in the province, based on a five-year average.

But this year Alberta is at around 600 fires and it’s burned just over 12-hundred hectares.

Still, he said fires can start even late in the season and urged people to be cautious in the bush.

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