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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 13 updates: Southwestern Alberta wildfire situation


^ Video tour on the afternoon of September 13 along Highway 6 from the Highway 505 intersection to near the Waterton Lakes National Park entrance.


  • Alberta Emergency Alert update for Cardston County, 9:21 pm Sept. 13 - Electrical power remains out, Fire is contained, but still, may pose a danger. A mandatory evacuation remains in place. Cardston County has contained the fire to a single location and crew have it well under control. Residents have no power which causes the Evacuation to remain in place. . Evacuation area remains from the Waterton Park Boundary, East for 8 miles only. Re-entry plans are now being developed. Further update to follow Thursday morning, September 14
  • Unified Command update, 9:00 pm September 13 - Please see the (above) updated map of the Kenow Fire. We now estimate that the wildfire now covers an area of approximately 35,000 ha. This map has been created with GPS information and satellite imagery and gives a more accurate representation of the area impacted by the fire. There is a potential for precipitation later tonight, which could provide some relief. We will provide another update on the situation tomorrow.

Photos taken this afternoon along Highway 6 from the Highway 505 intersection to near the Waterton Lakes National Park entrance.
  • Cardston County Facebook updates:  Cardston County is issuing Entry Permits for individuals who have evacuated their residences in the evacuation zone. Entry Permits are for the purpose of landowners checking in on livestock and pets. With public safety being our number one priority, please note that a time restriction will be placed on the duration of entries. Entry Permits are available at the County Administration Building, located at 1050 Main Street in the Town of Cardston. Given the recent situation of wildfires and evacuations in southwestern Alberta, Cardston County will be maintaining the evacuation order issued on the night of September 11th.  While the fire does not currently pose an immediate threat, there remains the potential for risks. Additionally, residences in the area currently do not have access to full utilities, further increasing the potential for risks. We understand that this decision may cause disappointment. We wish for people to be able to return to their homes, but we do not want this to occur until it is safe for everyone.  We appreciate the cooperation of landowners and all residents within the County during this extraordinary and volatile period. Cardston County continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure that all services are restored and the appropriate mechanisms are in place for all evacuated residents to return home safely.  Cardston County will continue to provide updates as soon as they are received. Please continue to monitor the situation by visiting www.cardstoncounty.com and www.facebook.com/cardstoncounty.



Evening Government of Alberta updates:
  • 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.
  • 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 Tuesday Sept. 12 to replenish and supplement firefighting efforts from Coalhurst, Didsbury, Ponoka and fire protection companies.
  • Residents will be notified by local government officials if their property was destroyed by the wildfire.
  • Fortis is working to restore power to approximately 421 customers in the affected area. Customers should contact 310-WIRE (9473) for more information.

^ September 13 morning press conference at the MD of Pincher Creek administration building.

An update from Pincher Creek Emergency Services (12:13 pm):

  • Chief Cox advised that the fire perimeter is no longer expanding in the South portion of the MD
  • The crews are working on small internal fires
  • Crews are also working to minimize the threats to structures that remain
  • The threat to structures in considered minimal at this time
  • There are no flames near any residential structures that remain intact in the area
  • Structure protection work continues in the Castle Mountain area
  • Castle Mountain Resort remains under mandatory evacuation and there is no access permitted in this area at this time.
Residents requiring assistance in moving livestock are encouraged to visit the MD of Pincher Creek's website at www.mdpinchercreek.ab.ca for further information.

Municipal District of Pincher Creek Kenow Wildfire update, September 13, 2017, 4:00 pm:

MD of Pincher Creek Emergency Services continue to work alongside Alberta Agricultural and Forestry and Parks Canada to battle the ongoing fire situation.

Currently, MD of Pincher Creek Emergency Services have 7 apparatus and 30 personnel deployed in the southern areas of the MD fighting the fire and suppressing hot spots.

Mandatory Evacuations:
- Remain in place for Castle Mountain Resort
- Remain in place for residents south of Highway 505 to Waterton Park

Limited Access:

- Residents from the Twin Butte area have been permitted limited access, for 2 hours from time of entry, to assess the condition of their

properties and livestock

- Residents are asked to respect the 2 hour limit from time of entry to their properties and to again evacuate the area as soon as possible

- Residents in the Castle Mountain Resort area are NOT permitted access to their residences at the current time due to safety concerns

Fire Status:

- The fires are still burning; however, the perimeter size has not grown over the past several hours

Further Information:

- Updates will be posted to the MD of Pincher Creek website at www.mdpinchercreek.ab.ca
- Updates will be manually posted at the Reception Centre located at: Vertical Church – 1200 Ken Thorton Blvd, Pincher Creek - Reception Centre Phone #: 403-904-8016
- MD of Pincher Creek Administration phone #: 403-627-3130

Resources

Unified Command update at 2:00 pm:

On September 11th, the Kenow Fire demonstrated aggressive fire behaviour for many hours due to high winds and critically dry fuels. The fire moved north at a high rate of spread along the Akamina parkway, through grasslands along the Waterton Lakes National Park’s Entrance Road and moved outside of the park boundaries. We estimate that the Kenow wildfire now covers an area of approximately 35,000 hectares.

WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOUR

Cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity and northeast winds are forecasted. There is a potential for precipitation later this evening, which could provide some relief. Fire behaviour potential is reduced.

Intense fire behaviour is still possible in these dry conditions.

We expect the fire burned deeply due to the critically dry vegetation.

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK…

Fire is still active in the area. Current objectives include ensuring safety, minimizing risk to structures affected by fire, assessing actions and repositioning resources in priority areas, continuing direct suppression action on the fire perimeter, and completing initial damage assessments.

Completed objectives include successfully removing vegetation in a burnout to further ensure fire protection measures within the Waterton townsite. Containment lines were established in the northeast portions of the park with fire retardant and fire guards.

CASTLE BRANCH FIRE SUPRESSION

The Castle Branch wildfire is burning on the west side of Sage Mountain. This fire remains at about 500 hectares. Aircraft are working on this fire this morning as the clouds and winds allow. Heavy equipment is also working on establishing containment lines in this area. This wildfire is about 23 km to Castle Mountain and 30 km to Beaver Mines.

Message from Alberta Health Services:

There are no AHS facility closures at this time. AHS facilities in Pincher Creek and Cardston remain open. If you need emergency care, you will receive care.

We are asking Visitors to please refrain from visiting loved ones in these facilities at this time, simply to help us preserve the indoor air quality in these buildings. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding.

Municipal District of Pincher Creek Kenow Wildfire Update September 13, 2017, 10:00 am - 

A State of Local Emergency remains in place for the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9

Mandatory evacuations remain in place at:

  • South of Highway 505 to Waterton Park
  • Castle Mountain Resort
283 residents have registered with the reception center.

Structural loss includes 5 residences, 5 outbuildings, 2 large sheds, 1 bridge on private property, fence lines, hay, and some power lines.

A reentry plan is being formulated, and this information will be forthcoming as it is finalized.

Weather patterns over the next two days are favourable, with a forecast of rain and little wind. Local residents, in the Twin Butte area, are now permitted past the road blocks set up by RCMP.

Residents will be required to register at the road block and provide their driver’s license to RCMP personnel. Residents will be permitted access to their properties for approximately two hours to check on their homes and livestock.

Castle Mountain Resort remains under mandatory evacuation and there is no access permitted in this area at this time.

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