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Thursday, September 14, 2017

September 14 southwestern Alberta wildfire updates



Municipal District of Pincher Creek Wildfire Update September 14, 2017. 7:00 pm -

Mandatory Evacuations:
  • Remain in place for Castle Mountain Resort. Access to this area is not permitted. 30 residents of this area are currently affected by this evacuation.
  • Remain in place for residents south of Oil Basin Road (Township 3-2) to Waterton Park.
Highway 6 remains closed from the Oil Basin Road (Township 3-2) to the Highway 5 junction.

Limited Access:
  • Residents, within the evacuation area, are still permitted access to their properties for a 2 hour period, during the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm.
  • 28 residences are within this evacuation area.
Re-Entry:
  • Approximately 60 Re-Entry information packages were provided to the residents returning to their homes in the Twin Butte area.
  • Residents are reminded that this area is considered on evacuation alert, and should be prepared to leave, on short notice, should the fire behaviour change.
Disposal of Spoiled Food: A bear proof bin will be placed north of the Twin Butte Community Hall for residents to dispose of any spoiled food.

Pincher Creek Emergency Services continue to monitor and action hot spots within the Twin Butte area.

Government of Alberta - Southwestern Alberta fire situation, 5:00 pm, September 14, 2017:
  • Mandatory evacuation orders are no longer in effect for Cardston County and portions of the M.D. of Pincher Creek.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 5:00 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A complete list of park closures is available at emergency.alberta.ca.
  • 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.
  • Residents will be notified by local government officials if their property was destroyed by the wildfire.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Updated evacuation map


Pincher Creek RCMP - Evacuation update

Pincher Creek, Alberta - Effective 12:30 pm, the mandatory evacuation area in the MD of Pincher Creek has been reduced in size. The area from highway 505 south to Township road 3-2 (Oil Basin Road) is now re-opened. This area is now considered to be under evacuation alert, meaning residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice should circumstances change.

A map is attached to show the area that remains under mandatory evacuation.

MD of Pincher Creek residents returning to homes that were under the evacuation order should pick up a re-entry information package. Packages are available at the MD administration office and at the old road block location on Highway 5 at the 505 junction.

Utilities to the affected areas have not been restored. Residents who choose to return should be prepared to be without electricity and/or gas. Crews are working to restore services but there is no estimation on when this will be completed.

The Mandatory Evacuation Order for Cardston County has been lifted.

Mandatory Evacuation orders remain in effect for Waterton Lakes National Park as well as Castle Mountain Resort. RCMP are controlling access to the areas that remain under evacuation with the use of road blocks on Highway 5 at Oil Basin Road and at the intersection of Highway 5&6, east of Waterton Park gates.


Municipal District of Pincher Creek September 14, at 1:00 pm

The mandatory evacuation order for the Castle Mountain Resort remains in effect. Access to this area is not permitted.
  • North of Oil Basin Road (Township Road 3-2) has been reopened
  • Residents can pick up a re-entry information package at the barricade located at Highway 505 and Highway 6
  • This package includes important safety information for residents returning to their homes
  • Packages are also available at the MD Administration Office and at the reception center
  • This area is now considered on evacuation alert and residents should be prepared to evacuate the area on short notice, should the fire behavior change. 
Twin Butte Evacuation Area Reduction:
  • North of Oil Basin Road (Township Road 3-2) has been reopened
  • Residents can pick up a re-entry information package at the barricade located at Highway 505 and Highway 6
  • This package includes important safety information for residents returning to their homes
  • Packages are also available at the MD Administration Office and at the reception center
  • This area is now considered on evacuation alert and residents should be
  • prepared to evacuate the area on short notice, should the fire behavior change.
Kenow Fire Update – Unified Command, September 14, 11:30 am 

The Kenow Fire still remains active and is classified as out of control. The fire is estimated at approximately 36,000 hectares. Our priorities are to ensure the safety of crews working in the area, protect infrastructure and values, and prevent the spread of the active fire with suppression tactics and containment lines. Helicopters and other aircraft continue to conduct aerial suppression tactics in the area. The Kenow Fire did not demonstrated any growth over night. The townsite itself and the values within it are not considered to be at risk at this time. We are working closely with provincial and local partners and emergency management organizations to contain this wildfire and protect key infrastructure and resources.


Our current priorities are:

- Continuing protection of values and infrastructure;

- Working to establish containment of the fire in strategic locations;

- On-going assessment of impacted values and infrastructure;

- Restoration of key infrastructure to prepare for re-entry.

WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOUR…
· The fire received 6 millimetres of rain overnight. Despite this precipitation, intense fire behaviour is still possible in these dry conditions.

· Cooler temperature and precipitation are providing some relief. The situation remains a serious one with significant effort required, however forecasted weather conditions are turning in our favour and are expected to reduce the likelihood of growth or new fire development.

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

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK

We wish to remind the public that the Kenow Fire is still active in the area and within the park boundaries. Please note that the Evacuation Oder is still in effect and the park remains closed to all incoming traffic except emergency vehicles and authorized personnel. Even though the townsite is not under immediate threat, there are risks due to the active fire nearby and ongoing fire operations. Community members should not attempt to return to the area until advised by Parks Canada Agency.

The detailed assessment of infrastructure and facilities is underway and will be available as soon as it is completed. We will be providing additional information regarding the status of infrastructure around the townsite as soon as possible. In the coming weeks, Parks Canada will inform the public once it has determined whether the entry of community and business owners within the park is safe. The high intensity of the fire has severely impacted the landscape within the park. As a result, many areas will remain unsafe.

Our thoughts are with those impacted by the Kenow Fire as well as with the teams working hard to respond to these fires.

CASTLE BRANCH FIRE SUPPRESSION

The area of fire within the Castle drainage is at 500 hectares. As of last night, the wildfire was burning on the west side of Sage Mountain and in the adjacent saddle areas. Fire behaviour yesterday was much less aggressive than previous days. Helicopters were bucketing on the wildfire however the airtankers were unable to fly on the fire yesterday due to poor visibility conditions. Heavy equipment completed the dozer guard according to the containment strategy. The fire was very active on the BC side of the border where the weather was warmer and drier than on the Alberta side. Weather conditions and visibility are preventing aerial action on the fire this morning. This wildfire is about 23 kilometres from Castle Mountain Resort and 30 kilometres from Beaver Mines. For more information, visit wildfire.alberta.ca or call 1-866-FYI-FIRE at 1-866-394-3473.

WHAT’S OPEN AND CLOSED

Waterton Lakes National Park is closed. Waterton Lakes National Park will be closed until we can assure it is safe to reopen. A safety assessment and any required work will be completed before the park is reopened.

Calgary Forest Protection Area south of Highway 532 is Closed.

Stay up-to-date through Waterton Lakes National Park’s website, facebook page and twitter feed. Additional information about wildfires in the national mountain parks is available at www.parkscanada.ca/fire.
  • Statement from Town of Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg, September 14, 2017, 10:10 am - The Town of Pincher Creek would like to advise residents that at this time and with the current conditions the fire threat to the Town of Pincher Creek is significantly diminished. We encourage residents to always have a plan for you and your family and to have an emergency kit ready to take with you in the event of an emergency. Information on preparing for an emergency can be found at www.BePrepared.ca All residents are also encouraged to sign up for Alberta Emergency Alerts. Our sincere gratitude to all the community members who have volunteered time, housed displaced friends and family and continue to provide support. In events such as this, we are proud to live in such a supportive and resourceful community. The support received from our surrounding communities has been significant and very appreciated. Thank you to the Emergency Services Personnel and staff who continue to work tirelessly through this event.
  • Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 vial Alberta Emergency Alert, Thursday September 14, 8:23 am - A re-entry plan for residents in the Twin Butte area is being developed. Details will be posted on the MD website when available. A Mandatory Evacuation Notice is still in place for South Highway 505 to Waterton Park and Castle Mountain Resort. A State of Local Emergency remains in effect.

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