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)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Kris Sturgess with Calgary Ghostbusters. (Photo from GoFundMe)
GoFundMe account salutes Red Deer prop builder

Kris Sturgess died unexpectedly April 28

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas talks with his players during a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Mexico's Cruz Azul at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Fernando Llano
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Gymnastics Canada skipping Olympic qualifier because of COVID-19 concerns

Gymnastics Canada skipping Olympic qualifier because of COVID-19 concerns

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, in Montreal, Thursday, July 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
After pregnancy, injuries and a pandemic, Bishop-Nriagu finally hitting her stride

After pregnancy, injuries and a pandemic, Bishop-Nriagu finally hitting her stride

Lille's Burak Yilmaz, center, reacts with teammates after scoring during their French League One soccer match between Lille and Nice in Villeneuve d'Ascq, northern France, Saturday May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Canada’s Jonathan David scores milestone goal as Lille moves 4 points ahead of PSG

Canada’s Jonathan David scores milestone goal as Lille moves 4 points ahead of PSG

Jean Carlo Salas of Costa Rica vies for the ball with Canada's Ian Bennett (right) during a CONCACAF Futsal Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CONCACAF-Norvin Mendoza MANDATORY CREDIT
Canada denied a trip to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in penalty shootout loss to Panama

Canada denied a trip to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in penalty shootout loss to Panama

Canadian Stephen Ames one shot back of leaders at Regions Tradition

Canadian Stephen Ames one shot back of leaders at Regions Tradition

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson leaves the ice after defeating China at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Friday, May 7, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson beats China 6-4, qualifies for playoffs at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson beats China 6-4, qualifies for playoffs at world curling playdowns

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. A broad coalition of MPs from all five parties wants the federal government to support waiving the global rules that guard vaccine trade secrets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

Most Read