Monday, 25 September 2017 05:55

Crews work tirelessly to protect landmarks within Waterton park

Written by  Demi Knight
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As the Kenow wildfire continues to blaze throughout southern Alberta, a report released Sept. 12 stated the fire has grown to over 35,000 hectares within Alberta, with the remainder of the fire burning through British Columbia, and as it continues to grow with each passing day Waterton Lakes National Park is still not out of danger.

Although cooler weather has graced the area, which allowed for temporary relief, the blaze continues to threaten many back country and front country areas of the park including Cameron Valley, the Crandell Mountain area, Blackiston Valley and grasslands in the north of the park.
 With the immediate threats still looming over the land, officials are rallying to protect the precious infrastructure within the park, says responsible Minister for Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.
“Parks Canada and fire management partners have put in place extensive fire protection measures to protect critical infrastructure, park resources, and in the townsite including high volume pump and sprinkler systems around the town.”
One feature especially important to Waterton is the 90-year-old landmark and designated National Historic Site that is the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Teams of firefighters from Cardston, Taber, Lethbridge, Coaldale, Claresholm area’s Willow Creek, and Calgary arrived at the scene on Sept. 9 and have been working ever since to help battle the blaze and keep landmarks such as the hotel free from flames. They’ve achieved this so far by constantly wetting down the land and buildings and eliminating fuel sources throughout the area that could ultimately aid the fire.
“At this stage, these measures have been holding within the townsite. Fire crews remain in place in the park and Parks Canada and its partners continue to make every effort to slow the advancement of the Kenow Fire and protect the townsite,” says McKenna.
Although there has been infrastructure damage so far from the fire to the park including the Visitor centre at the base of the bears hump mountain being burnt completely down. So far, the townsite remains mostly unscathed and the efforts of the fire-fighters to minimize damage has been paying off.
All firefighters that remain in the area while attempting to preserve the National park are faced with the current objectives of ensuring safety, minimizing risk to structures and repositioning resources in priority areas. So far, the crews within the area are working tirelessly to both prevent the further spreading of the fire and preparing for flames or embers to filter through that could cause ultimately result in a new fire occurring.
One way of doing this is by having ladder vehicles set up along the Prince of Wales hotel ready to spray foam and water should any burning embers threaten the exterior of the building.
Containment lines have also been established within the northeast portions of the park that include fire retardants and fire guards to help try and stop the spreading of the fire further.  However, it’s not just the infrastructure that officials are fighting to maintain, but the precious lands and surrounding areas also.
McKenna says officials from across the country are coming together to battle the blaze with the help from heavy equipment groups, air tanks and helicopters, all with hopes to slow the progress of the fast burning fire until the weather can stabilize and aid in the distinguish of another devastating wildfire.
“Fire crews, Parks Canada staff, provincial and local partners, and emergency management organizations from across the country continue to work tirelessly to slow the progress of the wildfire and protect key infrastructure and resources.”

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