Fire damages ranches in southwestern Alberta

Damage has been reported to farms and ranches on the perimeter of Waterton Lakes National Park as a wildfire continues to burn in southwestern Alberta.

Residents in the region east and north of the park were evacuated last night and the area under mandatory evacuation was expanded twice as the fire doubled in size, fed by strong winds.

The fire remains out of control, but Bernie Schmitte of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry said he was hopeful progress would be made today to contain its spread.

So far, about 500 people have had to leave their homes inside Waterton Lakes National Park and environs.

The Municipal District of Pincher Creek and County of Cardston have each declared local states of emergency. Contrary to some rumours, the town of Pincher Creek is not under evacuation order, although Mayor Don Anderburg said planning is underway for evacuation should it occur.

The fire is now approximately 50,000 acres in size.

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Premier Rachel Notley gave an update on the situation for media earlier today, noting the Waterton park is a special place to hundreds of thousands of people. Some 100 people live in the town site year-round and were evacuated along with park visitors on the evening of Sept. 8.

The visitor’s centre just outside the town has been burned to the ground, but the scenic Prince of Wales Hotel, an iconic structure that is a symbol of the park, was reportedly intact as of noon today.

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About 200 firefighters are on site, supported by water bombers and helicopters working to suppress the fire. High winds yesterday evening prevented aircraft from flying and fighting the flames.

At the same time as the forest fire, dubbed the Know wildfire, continued to burn, embers ignited a grass fire outside the park. It is this fire that has affected area farms and ranches.

Officials are hoping a forecasted cold front will work its way into the region Wednesday or Thursday and bring rain. There has been no precipitation in southwestern Alberta since mid-July.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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  • GreenSenior

    I’m a senior who hoped to visit Churchill on the train one day to see the polar bears. That’s on ice, at least for now thanks to historic flooding of the rail line. Waterton Park was also on my bucket list. Who knows what might be left of it now. Thanks climate change. Manmade climate change. Manmade climate change caused by our selfish over-use of fossil fuels. You know. Coal. Natural gas. Oil. It should not be necessary to mention this. But monster storms and wildfires are everyday occurrences nowadays. How many more do we need before out politicians will stop being dinosaurs and get behind a carbon tax? (Likely the most effective way of reducing GHG.) Dinosaurs like Brad Wall, Brian Pallister, Andrew Scheer, the Taxpayers Federation, some farm groups, small business and on and on. http://www.PlanetInPeril.ca

    • Harold

      The Dinosaurs didn’t believe in climate change and look what happened to them; the ice age. Too bad planet in peril BS dot ca wasn’t there at the time to prevent the ice age and to save them. Of course there would have been no one to blame or no one to tax and you can’t simply just blame natural causes so I guess Planet in peril BS dot ca would have been useless. Tax dollars and Politicians will clean up the global warming situation, and there is a sucker born every minute who will believe it. Natural cause and no tax; planet in peril BS dot ca and there is tax. Go figure. It’s too bad that the climate isn’t to your liking and that your bucket list has been altered, but at least you have everyone else to blame with support from planet in peril BS dot ca.

      • Happy Farmer

        This does not happen very often Harold, but I completely agree with your comment.

        • Harold

          I know that you and I could agree on many things but those things are seldom the topic matter, so I will not sell you short.
          Perhaps I can offer you this tidbit: Did you know that Trudeau pays 50 million dollars annually to the Canada Competition Bureau to investigate climate change deniers (those groups who deny mainstream climate science) and the deniers are to be handed over to the Attorney General for prosecution for making false and misleading statements? A complaint initiating an investigation is made by politicians, and not by scientists; now that is interesting. Here you have politicians, who regularly make false and misleading statements to the public, and they are not subject to any prosecution, and yet they are the complainant in this matter. We are going to send scientists to jail for holding a politically incorrect opinion? Furthermore, people are led to believe in the man-made climate change hysteria because it is illegal to not believe the politicians; Science imprisons people for politically incorrect thinking. This shows you the length that the government will go to take your money out of your pocket. What “peril” are we really facing?