Danger from an approaching wildfire has prompted Parks Canada to issue a voluntary evacuation advisory for Waterton Lakes National Park.
Issued Tuesday afternoon, the alert encourages park visitors to leave the area due to the possibility the 4,420 hectare fire near Kenow Mountain — currently on the B.C. side of the continental divide — may move east into the park.
Parks Canada spokesman John Stoesser said that while the fire poses no immediate threat to the park, the alert is being issued out of an abundance of caution.
“This is a pre-emptive action so that Parks Canada is fully prepared if fire conditions change due to a forecasted weather event,” he said.
“We want everyone to be prepared and safety is paramount in this situation.”
He said cottagers, campers and visitors should be prepared to leave in case an evacuation order becomes necessary.
The fire, sparked by a lightning strike on Aug. 30, is burning in the Kishinena Creek area of British Columbia’s Flathead Valley — about 30 km due west of the Waterton townsite.
While it has not spread west out of B.C., embers from the blaze have ignited spot fires within the park boundaries near Sage Pass which were quickly extinguished from the air by helicopters.
Emergency management and wildfire suppression teams are currently on standby within the park. with more expected in the coming days.
Mitigation and protection measures are currently underway using water pumps and sprinklers.
Currently, all trails and water access in the park have been closed, with only the townsite and the main access road from the Hwy. 5 and 6 entrance gate remaining open.
Also still open as of Tuesday are the Pass Creek, Emerald Bay, Prince of Wales and Linnet day use areas, as is the Chief Mountain Highway.
Waterton Lakes National Park is located about 250 km. south of Calgary.
For more information, visit www.parkscanada.ca/fire
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