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Update 7: Southwestern Alberta fire situation (Sept 14, 5 pm)

Mandatory evacuation orders are no longer in effect for Cardston County and portions of the M.D. of Pincher Creek. 

This situation update is current as of 5 p.m. For up-to-date information, visit emergency.alberta.ca.

Current situation

  • The mandatory evacuation order for Cardston County was lifted at noon today (Thursday). Residents should go to the Cardston County administration building or the Barn Store in Mountain View to receive a re-entry information package. Additional details are available online at cardstoncounty.com.
  • The mandatory evacuation order for the area of the M.D. of Pincher Creek between Highway 505 and Oil Basin Road (Twp 32) was lifted as of 1 p.m. today. The mandatory evacuation is still in place between Oil Basin Road (Twp Rd 32) and Waterton Lakes National Park. Additional details are available on the M.D. Pincher Creek website.
  • The mandatory evacuation order has been lifted for the Blood Tribe. Residents are asked to follow instructions from the Blood Tribe Administration.
  • A mandatory evacuation order remains for all areas of Waterton Lakes National Park.
  • The mandatory evacuation is still in place for Castle Mountain Resort.
  • A state of local emergency remains in effect for Cardston County, M.D. of Pincher Creek and the Blood Reserve. Detailed information is available at emergency.alberta.ca.
  • Conditions for firefighting have improved for a third consecutive day with a cold front bringing cooler moist air, showers and higher humidity into the region.

Wildfire activity updates

  • The Kenow wildfire currently covers approximately 36,000 hectares as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14.
  • Because of the colder weather, the fire is not expected to continue growing significantly.
  • Within the park itself, there are roughly 177 firefighters, three Alberta air tankers, 15 helicopters and 15 pieces of heavy equipment.

Waterton townsite

  • There are 24 firefighters from the Taber, Lethbridge, Coaldale and Cardston County fire departments at the Waterton townsite, down from 60 at the height of the fire. Conditions are improving and some firefighters are returning to their home community.

Park closures

Postponed: Tourism strategy open house

  • Open houses on the Castle Region tourism strategy scheduled for Sept. 20 in Pincher Creek and Sept. 21 in Blairmore are postponed to a later date. New dates will be available online.

Property damaged or destroyed

  • Residents will be notified by local government officials if their property was destroyed by the wildfire.

Power outages

  • During the fire, 675 homes in the affected area were without electricity. Fortis has restored power to 254 customers and is working to restore power to the remaining 421 customers. Customers should contact 310-WIRE (9473) for more information.

Travel

  • The following highway is closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 6 north of Waterton Lakes National Park to Township Road 32
  • The following highways within Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5
    • Highway 6
    • Chief Mountain border crossing
  • The following highways remain closed to the public, with the exception of permit holders, due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 532, west of Highway 22
    • Highway 520, east of Highway 22 for approximately 12 kilometres
    • Highway 774, from Highway 507 to Castle Provincial Park

Check 511 Alberta for up-to-date travel information.


Backgrounder

Previous updates

Update 6: Sept. 13, 5:15 pm

  • The mandatory evacuation order has been lifted for the Blood Tribe. Residents are asked to follow instructions from the Blood Tribe Administration.
  • A mandatory evacuation order and states of local emergency remain in effect for the M.D. of Pincher Creek and Cardston County. Detailed information on affected areas can be found at emergency.alberta.ca.
  • Approximately 500 people are under a mandatory evacuation order from their homes in Waterton townsite, parts of Cardston County, parts of the M.D. of Pincher Creek and parts of the Blood Reserve.
  • Some residents in the Twin Butte area are being granted two-hour visits to assess their property and feed livestock. More information on getting access to properties is available on the M.D. Pincher Creek website.
  • Access to all other mandatory evacuation zones is not permitted at this time. 

Wildfire activity updates

  • The Kenow wildfire has spread outside Waterton Lakes National Park into Cardston County and the M.D. of Pincher Creek.  
  • The Kenow wildfire currently covers approximately 44,000 hectares.
  • Fire behaviour is not expected to be as extreme today due to lower temperatures and higher relative humidity. Conditions for firefighting have improved.
  • Firefighters working within Waterton were relieved Tuesday, Sept. 12 by a second team coming in and will continue their work with 11 fire trucks on site.
  • Within the park itself, there are roughly 137 firefighters, three Alberta air tankers, 8 helicopters and 15 pieces of heavy equipment.

Waterton townsite

  • The Office of the Fire Commissioner coordinated additional resources that were brought in Tues. Sept. 12 to replenish and supplement firefighting efforts from Coalhurst, Didsbury, Ponoka and fire protection companies.

Park closures

  • Payne Lake Provincial Recreation Area
  • Beauvais Lake Provincial Park
  • Maycroft Provincial Recreation Area
  • Waterton Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area
  • A complete list of park closures is available at emergency.alberta.ca.

Property damaged or destroyed

  • Residents will be notified by local government officials if their property was destroyed by the wildfire.

Power outages

  • Fortis is working to restore power to approximately 421 customers in the affected area. Customers should contact 310-WIRE (9473) for more information.

Travel

  • The following highways are closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5 east of Waterton Lakes National Park to Highway 800
    • Highway 6 north of Waterton Lakes National Park to Highway 505
  • The following highways within Waterton Lakes National Park are closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5
    • Highway 6
    • Chief Mountain border crossing
  • The following highways are closed to the public, with the exception of permit holders, due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 532, west of Highway 22
    • Highway 520, east of Highway 22 for approximately 12 kilometres
    • Highway 774, from Highway 507 to Castle Provincial Park

Check 511 Alberta for up-to-date travel information.


Update 5: Sept. 12, 11 pm

  • The Kenow wildfire currently covers approximately 33,000 hectares in Alberta, with a total size of approximately 42,000 hectares. A mandatory evacuation order was issued on Sept. 11 at 10:15 p.m. for a section of the Municipal District of Pincher Creek from Highway 505 South to Waterton Lakes National Park and Castle Mountain Resort. An estimated 150 residences have been affected. A reception centre has been set up at the Vertical Church at 1200 Ken Thornton Blvd. in Pincher Creek. Residents leaving their community should go to the reception centre or call 403-904-8016 to register.
  • A mandatory evacuation was issued on Sept. 11 at 11:44 p.m. for the area of Cardston County between Waterton Lakes National Park and Hwy 800 from the U.S. border north to Twp Rd 40. More than 50 homes have been affected. A reception centre is located at 1050 Main Street in the Town of Cardston. Residents who are leaving and need accommodation should call 403-653-4977.
  • A mandatory evacuation was issued on Sept. 12 for areas of the Blood Tribe in Zone 1, including Fish Creek, St. Paul’s area extending north to Russell and Many Fingers residences. An evacuation advisory has been issued for Zone 3, including north of Russell and Many Fingers residences extending to Lavern and little Chicago area. An estimated 180 people have been affected. A reception centre has been set up in the Standoff multipurpose building and residents are asked to register at the multipurpose building even if they do not intend to stay there.
  • Approximately 500 people are under a mandatory evacuation order from their homes in Waterton townsite, parts of Cardston Country, parts of the MD of Pincher Creek and parts of the Blood Reserve.
  • In the town of Waterton, roughly 60 structural firefighters from neighbouring municipalities, including the City of Calgary, are working to protect the structures within the perimeter of the town. Unfortunately structures outside the perimeter have been lost, including the Visitor Centre and several out buildings.
  • Crews are working hard to protect houses and other structures there and our latest information is that they have been successful.
  • Firefighters working within Waterton were relieved Tuesday, Sept. 12 by a second team coming in and will continue their work with 17 fire trucks on site.
  • Within the park itself, there are roughly 135 firefighters, nine Alberta air tankers and 14 helicopters.
  • Alberta Forestry has an additional 125 firefighters and 23 helicopters on standby, waiting for direction from the incident command team.

Wildfire activity

  • The Kenow wildfire has spread outside Waterton Lakes National Park into Cardston County and the Municipal District of Pincher Creek.  
  • High winds, high temperatures and low humidity continue and intense fire behaviour is anticipated.

Waterton townsite

  • The Office of the Fire Commissioner coordinated additional resources that were brought in Tues. Sept. 12 to replenish and supplement firefighting efforts from Coalhurst, Didsbury, Milk River, Olds, Ponoka and fire protection companies.

Park closures

  • Payne Lake Provincial Recreation Area
  • Beauvais Lake Provincial Park
  • Maycroft Provincial Recreation Area
  • Waterton Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area
  • A complete list of park closures is available at www.emergency.alberta.ca.

Travel

  • The following highways are closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5 east of Waterton Lakes National Park to Highway 800
    • Highway 6 north of Waterton Lakes National Park to Highway 505
  • The following highways within Waterton Lakes National Park are closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5
    • Highway 6
    • Chief Mountain border crossing
  • The following highways are closed to the public, with the exception of permit holders, due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 532, west of Highway 22
    • Highway 520, east of Highway 22 for approximately 12 kilometres
    • Highway 774, from Highway 507 to Castle Provincial Park
  • Check 511 Alberta for up-to-date travel information.
Southern Alberta wildfire - Sept, 12, 2017 at 10 pm

Update 4: Southwestern Alberta fire situation (Sept 12, 3 pm)

  • Overnight the fire grew by 50 per cent to roughly 20,000 hectares. A mandatory evacuation was issued on Sept. 11 at 10:15 p.m. for a section of the Municipal District of Pincher Creek from South Highway 505 to Waterton Lakes National Park and Castle Mountain Resort. An estimated 150 residences have been affected. A reception centre has been set up at the Vertical Church at 1200 Ken Thornton Blvd. in Pincher Creek. Residents evacuating should go to the reception centre or call 403-904-8016 to register.
  • A mandatory evacuation was issued on Sept. 11 at 11:44 p.m. for the area of Cardston County between Waterton Lakes National Park and Hwy 800 from the U.S. border north to Twp Rd 40. More than 50 homes have been affected. Residents who are leaving and need accommodation should call 403-653-4977.
  • A mandatory evacuation was issued on Sept. 12 for areas of the Blood Tribe in Zone 1, including Fish Creek, St. Paul’s area extending north to Russell and Many Fingers residences. An evacuation advisory has been issued for Zone 3, including north of Russell and Many Fingers residences extending to Lavern and little Chicago area. An estimated 180 people have been affected. A reception centre has been set up in the Standoff multipurpose building, and residents are asked to register at the multipurpose building even if they do not intend to stay there.
  • Approximately 500 people are under a mandatory evacuation order from their homes in Waterton townsite, parts of Cardston Country, parts of the MD of Pincher Creek and parts of the Blood Reserve.
  • In the town of Waterton, roughly 60 structural firefighters from neighbouring municipalities, including the City of Calgary, are working to protect the structures within the perimeter of the town. Unfortunately structures outside the perimeter have been lost, including the Visitor Centre and several out buildings.
  • Crews are working hard to protect houses and other structures there and our latest information is that they have been successful.
  • Firefighters working within Waterton will be relieved today by a second team coming in and will continue their work with 17 fire trucks on site.
  • Within the park itself, there are roughly 135 firefighters, nine Alberta airtankers and 14 helicopters.
  • Alberta Forestry has an additional 125 firefighters and 23 helicopters on standby, waiting for direction from the incident command team.

Wildfire activity

  • The Kenow wildfire has spread outside Waterton Lakes National Park into Cardston County and the Municipal District of Pincher Creek.  
  • High winds, high temperatures and low humidity are forecast for Tuesday, Sept. 12, and intense fire behaviour continues to be anticipated.

Waterton townsite

  • Structural protection units and resources are in place in the Waterton townsite and have worked through the night providing protection.
  • The Office of the Fire Commissioner is coordinating additional resources to be brought in today to replenish and supplement firefighting efforts from Coalhurst, Didsbury, Milk River, Olds, Ponoka and fire protection companies.

Park closures

  • Payne Lake Provincial Recreation Area, 25 km west of Cardston, has been closed (new).
  • A complete list of park closures is available at www.emergency.alberta.ca.

Travel

  • The following highways are closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5 east of Waterton Lakes National Park to west of Cardston
    • Highway 6 north of Waterton Lakes National Park to Twin Butte
  • The following highways within Waterton Lakes National Park are closed to the public due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5
    • Highway 6
    • Chief Mountain border crossing
  • The following highways are closed to the public, with the exception of permit holders, due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 532, west of Highway 22
    • Highway 520, east of Highway 22 for approximately 12 km
    • Highway 774, from Highway 507 to Castle Provincial Park
  • Check 511 Alberta for up-to-date travel information.
Map of Kenow wildfire in Southern Alberta

Update 3: Sept. 10 at 4 pm

  • Parks Canada has reported the fire to be approximately 9,400 hectares in size.
  • Parks Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry have established unified command to integrate common objectives and to coordinate resources and efforts. This includes additional resources from Calgary, Coaldale, Lethbridge, Municipal District of Willow Creek and Taber.
  • The fire hazard across much of southern Alberta continues to be extreme. A Fire Weather Advisory remains in effect for southern Alberta where extreme conditions are heightened by strong winds.
  • There are currently 670 firefighters, 72 helicopters, 50 pieces of heavy equipment and 16 airtankers available to respond to wildfires across Alberta.
  • Reports from field operations indicate that currently deployed resources are anticipated to be able to hold the fire on the Alberta side.
  • All residents and non-essential personnel have been safely evacuated and the townsite is secure. Admittance at the park gate is limited to essential personnel.
  • Ninety-six evacuees have registered with the MD of Pincher Creek.
  • Waterton-area evacuees are encouraged to register, even if they do not need assistance, to allow authorities to contact them with any new information:
  • Evacuees needing accommodation are asked to call the Pincher Creek reception centre at 403-904-0021.

Air quality

Provincial response

  • The Government of Alberta continues to work with local and federal officials.
  • An Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) mobile emergency vehicle is now located in Waterton and serving as an operations centre.
  • In response to a request from the Cardston County Fire Department (responds to structural fires in Waterton Lakes National Park), an ambulance medical unit has been dispatched to Waterton.
  • Structural fire protection and resources are now in place in the Town of Waterton.
  • Alberta Wildfire has three helicopters, along with airtankers, fighting the wildfire on the Alberta side.

Travel

  • The following highways remain closed to the public, with the exception of permit holders, due to the current wildfire situation:
    • Highway 5, from the Town of Waterton to Highway 6
    • Highway 532, west of Highway 22
    • Highway 520, east of Highway 22 for approximately 12 km
    • Highway 774, from Highway 507 to Castle Provincial Park
  • For up-to-date travel information across Alberta, please check 511 Alberta and “know before you go.”

Update 2: Sept 9 at 4:30 pm

  • All residents and non-essential personnel have been safely evacuated and the townsite is secure. Admittance at the park gate is limited to essential personnel.
  • Eighty-seven evacuees have registered with the MD of Pincher Creek.
  • Waterton-area evacuees are encouraged to register, even if they do not need assistance, to allow authorities to contact them with any new information:
  • As the reception centre in Pincher Creek currently has no overnight occupants, evacuees needing accommodation or registration are asked to call 403-904-0021.
  • The fire hazard across much of southern Alberta continues to be extreme.
  • There are currently more than 700 firefighters, 90 helicopters and 55 pieces of heavy equipment as well as 16 airtankers available to respond to wildfires across Alberta.

Update 1: Sept 8 at 5:30 pm

  • The Kenow Wildfire has crossed over into Alberta through Waterton Lakes National Park. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Parks Canada are working together to fight this wildfire.
  • The smoke has become very intense in the Waterton Lakes park area, leaving very low visibility. The winds have also picked up significantly. Parks Canada has made the decision to evacuate the Town of Waterton before darkness falls today.
  • A reception centre has been set up in Pincher Creek for evacuees.
  • Cots and blankets have been provided by the National Emergency Stockpile system.
  • The Alberta government is working with the federal government to keep visitors and residents in the affected area informed.
  • The government is also working with jurisdictions in the area to keep residents and local decision makers informed on the current fire situation.

Fire hazard

  • The fire hazard across much of southern Alberta is extreme. A fire weather advisory for southern Alberta has been issued. If a wildfire does occur, conditions may cause rapid spread, making it difficult for firefighters to contain the wildfire quickly.
  • Agriculture and Forestry has 764 firefighters, 104 helicopters, 75 pieces of heavy equipment, and 16 airtankers available to respond to wildfires across the province.
  • A fire restriction has been put in place for parts of the forested area west of Rocky Mountain House to the mountains. Open fires on public land, as well as backcountry and non-designated camping sites, are prohibited.

Air quality

  • Environment and Parks has sent mobile air quality units to the communities of Cardston and Pincher Creek, where permanent monitoring stations do not exist.

Provincial response

  • The Office of the Fire Commissioner has arranged for additional resources to the Town of Waterton to assist with structural protection, working with Parks Canada and Agriculture and Forestry, including 41 firefighters and three engines, two ladder trucks and three wildland trucks and one water tender from Calgary, Coaldale, Lethbridge, MD of Willow Creek and Taber.
  • The Alberta Emergency Management Agency has a mobile emergency vehicle and five staff on site serving as an operations centre as they monitor the situation.
  • In response to a request from Parks Canada, the Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) has deployed a team, two mobile communications sites, and radio units to assist with communications needs for first responders.
  • Fish and Wildlife officers are conducting patrols in various areas of the forest closure.

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