Evac­u­a­tion or­ders mount in Al­berta

Wild­fire spreads to var­i­ous spots in Water­ton lakes na­tional park

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NATIONAL NEWS - Lau­ren Krugel and Ken Trim­ble

Water­ton, alta. — a wild­fire that parks Canada says has spread to var­i­ous spots in Water­ton lakes na­tional park has prompted evac­u­a­tion or­ders in some sur­round­ing ar­eas.

the blood tribe, a First na­tions com­mu­nity south­west of leth­bridge, or­dered ev­ery­one out early tues­day from homes and apart­ments in the ex­treme south­west cor­ner of the re­serve.

“there’s prob­a­bly about 50 homes,” said blood tribe fire Chief Os­car Cot­ton. “What i can tell you is that our evac­u­a­tion cen­tre has about 100 peo­ple.”

res­i­dents of about 150 homes in an­other area of the re­serve, fur­ther away from the fire, were told to be pre­pared to leave on short no­tice. Cot­ton said the blaze was mov­ing rapidly.

“at 4 a.m. (tues­day morn­ing) it was about 5 km from the re­serve. at the same time mon­day, it was prob­a­bly 20 or 30 km.”

prop­erty dam­age isn’t the only con­cern, Cot­ton said.

“the only prob­lem that we re­ally have is the mas­sive amount of smoke we’re get­ting from that fire,” he said.

lockey Craig, who has prop­erty just east of the park on the belly river, drove down with his wife from Cal­gary on mon­day night when it looked like the sit­u­a­tion was wors­en­ing.

they man­aged to load some photo al­bums and other keep­sakes into his ve­hi­cle be­fore the area was put un­der an evac­u­a­tion or­der late mon­day night. Craig fig­ures he got 2 1/2 hours of sleep at a niece’s house in nearby Card­ston.

he said when he was at his prop­erty, he could see smoke bil­low­ing out from the moun­tains in the park and there was ash fall­ing from the sky.

“We live at least 10 km away from the (park) gate and it looked like it was snow­ing last night through the night as we were load­ing stuff up.”

Craig is the pres­i­dent of Way­marker hos­pi­tal­ity, which owns sev­eral ho­tels and restau­rants within the park’s town­site. he said rumours have been fly­ing about which build­ings have been burned and which have been spared.

“it is what it is. i’m very sad about what’s hap­pened,” he said.

“i’m very sad about the whole back­coun­try. noth­ing we can do, though.”

peo­ple were told to leave Water­ton lakes na­tional park late last week be­cause of the fire.

parks Canada said the fire firmly es­tab­lished it­self in the park on mon­day af­ter­noon and was vis­i­ble from the town­site in the evening.

“at this time, the ma­jor­ity of the town­site ap­pears to be in­tact,” parks Canada said around mid­day tues­day. “ex­ten­sive fire pro­tec­tion mea­sures were ef­fec­tive in safe­guard­ing the ma­jor­ity of in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties within the com­mu­nity and at the prince of Wales ho­tel.”

it said else­where in the park, in­fra­struc­ture has been com­pro­mised.

al­berta emer­gency ser­vices is­sued a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­der late mon­day evening for res­i­dents of the mu­nic­i­pal district of pincher Creek no. 9 just north of the park.

as well, nearby Card­ston County de­clared a state of emer­gency and told res­i­dents to head to the civic cen­tre in the town of Card­ston.

parks Canada said as of mon­day af­ter­noon, the Kenow fire cov­ered about 114 sq. km.

parks Canada’s rick Ku­bian said at the time the fire had the po­ten­tial to reach the Water­ton town­site, though of­fi­cials were hope­ful that would not hap­pen. he said he was ex­pect­ing an­other two to three days of burn­ing be­fore rainy weather fore­cast to sweep in later in the week.

“there is some re­lief in sight.”

Bryan Pas­si­fi­ume/post­media NET­WORK

A sign warns of the clo­sure of Water­ton Lakes Na­tional Park in south­west Al­berta on Satur­day as a wild­fire ap­proaches the na­tional park.

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