Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sept. 8 Kenow Fire Situation Update at Twin Butte Hall

Chris Davis - The Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 hosted a community meeting at Twin Butte Hall yesterday evening, September 8. All members of the MD council were in attendance, as was Cardston County Reeve Jim Bester. MD CAO Wendy Kay moderated the event, which included statements by a number of first responders and wildfire experts, Pincher Creek Emergency Services Chief Dave Cox, Shell Waterton Community Liaison Kristen Schmidt, and RCMP members. That was followed by a lengthy Q&A session with concerned citizens. The hall was packed, with over 130 people in attendance, based on a rough estimate. Earlier in the day a mandatory evacuation of Waterton Lakes National Park was effected.

  • The MD of Pincher Creek will be hosting a similar community meeting at Coalfields School in Beaver Mines on Monday, September 11, starting at 7:00 pm. 

While the meeting was underway Parks Canada also announced that with the help of the RCMP all residents and non-essential personnel have been evacuated from the park, and the Waterton townsite has been secured. Weather conditions are expected to increase fire behaviour over the weekend, triggering the conditions previously established for evacuating residents and tourists from the park. At the time of the Parks Canada press release the fire was estimated to have grown to approximately 7,800 hectares in size.

Highway 3 west of Burmis, September 7

A special air quality statement issued by Environment Canada remains in effect at the time this was written.

According to a Government of Alberta press release, "The fire hazard across much of southern Alberta is extreme. A fire weather advisory for southern Alberta has been issued. If a wildfire does occur, conditions may cause rapid spread, making it difficult for firefighters to contain the wildfire quickly. Agriculture and Forestry has 764 firefighters, 104 helicopters, 75 pieces of heavy equipment, and 16 air tankers available to respond to wildfires across the province." According to Parks Canada, current or incoming resources at Waterton Lakes National park include "six fire crews, seven helicopters, a National Incident Management team, high volume pumps, hoses and sprinkler kits and a specialized structural fire protection team. Additional resources are on call if needed." According to a City of Calgary press release issued yesterday, "In addition to deploying an advance party to coordinate with Parks Canada personnel, Calgary Fire Department is also deploying approximately 16 members, two mechanics and three apparatus: two aerials and a sterling engine."

Fire bans are still in effect for the Town of Pincher Creek, Piikani Nation, the M.D. of Pincher Creek No. 9, Hill Spring, Glenwood, Cardston, County of Cardston, Fort Macleod, and Crowsnest Pass.

Forest Area Closure map (Alberta Government)

Forestry area closures are still in effect for the Calgary Forest Area, south of Highway 532 to the US border and west to the BC border, and Alberta Fire Control Zones 1, 2, and 3. Highway 532 is just north of Chain Lakes and intersects with Highway 22. Highway 22 and Highway 3 remain open for traffic. A Fire Ban and OHV Restriction remain in effect for the rest of the Calgary Forest Area. The Forest Area Closure will remain in effect until conditions improve.

If you're found to be carrying on any unauthorized activity or operating any equipment within the forest closure area you may be subject to a fine of $287 to $575. If you're found responsible for interfering with wildfire operations you face a mandatory court appearance.

Castle Wildland Provincial Park remains closed.

All evacuees are asked to register at the Reception and Evacuation Centre located at Pincher Creek's Vertical Church (1200 Ken Thornton Blvd., located just south of Co-op and Vista Village), even if you do not require assistance. Registering will provide a record that you were evacuated and enable authorities to contact you with any new information. You can register by email to (put in subject line: "Evac Registration") or by phoning 403-904-0021. Please provide name, number in party and contact phone number. A few evacuees took shelter in the church last night.

Wildfire Alberta Fire Weather Index for September 8, 2017

Alberta Fire Behaviour Advisory

Issued September 8, 2017 for September 9, 2017 by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Wildfire Management Branch, Forestry Division

The Calgary Forest Area, and in particular, the Crow region south of Calgary will experience strong winds again today as a second cold front passage from the one yesterday followed by an approaching upper trough moves across the Province. Winds of 50 km/hr sustained with gusts to 70 km/hr are forecast. These winds coupled with expected crossover conditions and the current FWI values in the Crow region will create very high ISI values again for the Calgary Forest Area.

Very easy burning conditions are prevalent all across the Calgary Forest area as an extended lack of precipitation and warm dry weather have elevated all fire weather indices to extreme, and in some cases, record setting levels. Smoke from forest fires elsewhere has been shading the area for several days causing a reduction in temperatures and increase in observed humidity. This is an artificial cap on true fire behaviour potential and poses the danger that once the smoke moves off, the underlying forest fire potential is quickly exposed. The fire danger in the Calgary Forest Area remains at extreme until actual rain is received in amounts to significantly lower the Duff Moisture Code and Drought Code and in turn, the derivative Build Up Index. Smoky days or days with higher humidity have the effect of supressing fire behaviour, but this is a short-lived cap on fire behaviour potential, one that can lift quickly with small changes in wind or atmospheric stability. When the conditions that cause the smoke or humidity increase wear off, fire behaviour can change quickly, often within a single burning period. This can create a significant safety risk to ground personell who may not be aware of the changing conditions or associated fire potential. The Calgary Forest Area, and in particular, the Crow region of that Forest Area remain under the threat of fast moving, very intense forest fire with moderate to long-range spot fire development.

The forecasted winds hold the potential to cause very intense, fast-moving forest fire, especially under these current extremely dry fire weather index levels. Conditions can change very quickly and safety awareness is needed at all times.

Elsewhere in the Province, precipitiation and higher humidities have brought fire danger relief to most locations. High Drought Codes still persist across most of northern Alberta but Duff Moisture Code and Fine Fuel Moisture Code relief will moderate fire occurrence and fire behaviour.

Resource linkstorm:

Report a wildfire to 310-FIRE (3473)

@md_of_pc on Twitter

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