Old forest, summer heat fuelling fire near Nordegg

Old forest untouched by fire for decades or more and hot, dry conditions have proved a challenging combination in the West Country.

Old forest untouched by fire for decades or more and hot, dry conditions have proved a challenging combination in the West Country.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development wildlife officer Barry Shellian said conditions are unique for many reasons in Banff National Park where Spreading Creek Wildfire is approaching 17,000 acres burned.

The Kootenay Plains is typically dry anyway but the recent heatwave and absence is significant rainfall has exasperated that.

“The other couple of items were dealing with out there is a particularly old forest as well.

“Many of these areas haven’t seen a wildfire for a particularly long time.”

Wildfire is a natural part of the ecosystem and is key to regenerating forests from time to time.

“When you look across the land base we’ll see a mosaic, sort of a jigsaw puzzle of different ages and species. These fires are a regulator of natural processes.”

In the Spreading Creek area, it has been decades — and in some places centuries — since a fire swept through.

Shellian said the fire is being held.

“The fire is going to continue to grow but it is not out of control.”

About 125 firefighters from the province and Parks Canada and seven helicopters are working the borders of the fire and using natural barriers such as high ground and rivers to contain it.

“Although this fire now is approaching 7,000 hectares there are mountains on either side. We use those natural barriers and we enhance those natural barriers.”

Besides water and sprinkler systems, fire crews are using controlled burns to direct the fire.

While Hwy 11 remains open but an information barricade has been set up 60 km west of Nordegg. Visitors are urged to find another part of the West Country to enjoy for the time being.

Hwy 93 is closed from Lake Louise to Saskatchewan River Crossing.

Those who must travel in other areas can check www.Alberta511 for the routes’ current status.

The province served notice last Friday that an area including the mountains south of Hwy 11, north to Cline River and extending from the Banff National Park border east to Whiterabbit Creek is off limits to all but individuals with an ESRD permit.

In Red Deer County, a fire ban was put in place on Monday because of the hot and dry conditions.

For more information on the Spreading Creek Wildfire go to www.albertafirebans.ca

Closed as of Monday evening:

— Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, Cavalcade Group Use, Two O’Clock Creek and Siffleur Falls and Trail Closed

— Hwy 93 from Lake Louise to Saskatchewan River Crossing (Hwy 11)

Just Posted

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

EDMONTON — Jason Kenney, Alberta’s incoming premier, said he cordially talked pipelines… Continue reading

Shooting victims in Penticton, B.C., remembered before vigil at city park

PENTICTON, B.C. — Family and friends are remembering neighbours who were gunned… Continue reading

Kremlin says Kim Jong Un will visit Russia this month

MOSCOW — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia later… Continue reading

After 2 years of waiting, Americans will see Mueller report

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is about to… Continue reading

Updated: Industrial fabrication shop in Red Deer destroyed in morning fire

About 30 workers got out safely before building in north end gutted

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Netflix adds 9.6M subscribers in 1Q as competition heats up

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix kicked off the year with the biggest subscriber… Continue reading

Liberals find anti-Trudeau sentiment on campaign trail in Prince Edward Island

OTTAWA — When voters in Prince Edward Island go to the polls… Continue reading

Officer tells of finding body at trial for B.C. dad accused of killing daughters

VANCOUVER — A police officer choked up Tuesday as he recalled finding… Continue reading

Man faces murder charges in slayings of two men, two women in Penticton, B.C.

PENTICTON, B.C. — A former city employee described as a hard-working, civic-minded… Continue reading

A look at Alberta’s elections since the province was created in 1905

EDMONTON — A chronology of Alberta elections: Nov. 9, 1905: Lawyer Alexander… Continue reading

Most Read