WATERTON LAKES - The weather, along with outside help, are keeping a major fire in B.C. from spreading into Waterton Lakes National Park.
A national incident management team is in the park, helping ensure the Kenow Fire doesn't cause any significant damage in the park itself. John Stoesser with Parks Canada said the team includes an incident commander, fire behaviour specialists, and operations and planning crews.
Firefighters have also joined the effort from Ontario, with another crew due to arrive from a different park Wednesday, Sept. 6, Stoesser added. He said Parks Canada has been planning for this.
"It's unfortunate that it's been such a dry season, but fire management is something we have lots of experience in, and that's what we're doing right now in the park," he said.
On Labour Day, Monday, Sept. 4, helicopters were being used to attack spot fires within the park boundary. Stoesser said using them to drop water from buckets was effective, combined with a change in the weather.
"Right now the fire's not moving towards Waterton Lakes National Park as much as it had been, when the wind was in the other direction," he explained. "The spot fires -- it's hard to say for sure if they're out, but they're certainly looking colder."
Elsewhere in the park crews are working on facility protection, with plans for pumps and sprinklers. Stoesser said they have to plan to protect infrastructure such as roads and utilities, as well as the townsite, cabins, and campgrounds.
Earlier in the weekend the fire threat prompted Parks Canada to close several more portions of the park, including Red Rock Parkway and Crandell Campground, and many of the trails. While Akamina Parkway remains open to vehicle traffic, no hiking or access to Cameron Lake is being allowed.
Stoesser said light upslope winds are in the forecast through Thursday, but weather conditions are updated daily. Smoke had once again settled over the park, and he encourages people to check online for air quality alerts.
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