(The Canadian Press)

Helicopters holding fire that’s crossed into Canada at avalanche path

Dry and windy conditions Friday afternoon pushed the Boundary Wildfire north across the border

Crews battling a wildfire near the U.S. border in Alberta are hoping an avalanche path will prevent the flames from spreading further into a national park that was badly burned last year.

Dry and windy conditions Friday afternoon pushed the Boundary Wildfire north across the border for the first time into Waterton Lakes National Park in southwestern Alberta.

Parks Canada says in a news release the area received a small amount of rain overnight, but it was so small that it couldn’t be measured, and Saturday’s forecast called for strong winds and sun.

John Stoesser, a spokesman for Parks Canada, says the flames have reached a stretch of mountainside that has been swept mostly bare of trees by winter avalanches.

Stoesser says sparks have crossed the avalanche zone and ignited spot fires on the eastern side.

He says helicopters are dumping water on those spot fires to keep them from growing and burning further through the Boundary Valley towards the Waterton Valley.

“When the fire burns through those coniferous trees leading towards the avalanche path, those are a little bit more flammable. But then when it reaches that avalanche path, there’s not as much trees there, there’s not as much vegetation there so the fire activity slows right down when it gets to that line,” Stoesser said in an interview Saturday.

“So that’s why it’s a good place to drop water from the helicopters.”

READ MORE: B.C. Wildfire Service says smoke still concern despite fewer blazes

READ MORE: Myths and facts about fighting wildfires

READ MORE: ‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

Parks Canada said two helicopters were on the job at the avalanche boundary on Saturday and that a third chopper was on its way.

Stoesser said it’s an aerial effort at this point, since it’s steep, rocky terrain. Once the flames are knocked down a bit, he said firefighters can go into the area and do what they can from the ground.

Waterton was devastated a year ago by a wildfire which consumed more than 190-square kilometres within the park and led to a two-week mandatory evacuation.

An evacuation alert was issued last month for Waterton Lakes National Park due to the fire that’s been burning on the U.S side in Glacier National Park, but the alert was later lifted when the area got rain.

A Parks Canada news release on Saturday said the agency and U.S. fire managers are working together and are in constant communication about fire activity and response.

The fire is estimated to be about 11-square kilometres in size.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Your weekly Mountain Minute

This week’s top stories… Continue reading

Highway 1 closed to due fatal accident east of Revelstoke

A dump truck lost control and the driver was ejected

Stetski talks up NDP election platform

NDP candidate for Kootenay-Columbia riding outlines election ‘commitments’ to Canadian voters

UPDATE: Boat sinks in less than a minute on Mitten Lake

A Saturday afternoon at Mitten Lake quickly turned sour for a local… Continue reading

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read