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Precautionary evacuation alert issued for Alberta national park over wildfire

September 05, 2017 - 6:47 PM

WATERTON, Alta. - Parks Canada issued a precautionary evacuation alert on Tuesday evening for all of Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta due to potential danger from an expanding wildfire.

Parks officials called it "a pre-emptive action" so they can be fully prepared if fire conditions change, saying "safety is paramount."

They said there was no immediate threat.

The Alberta government called the evacuation "voluntary" and said it includes not just the National Park but the community of Waterton, which has a population of about 100 people.

Waterton park officials said should a mandatory evacuation be ordered, "you must leave the park within one hour of formal notice" and suggested people ready themselves by gathering their medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers and keepsakes.

"Travel will only be permitted out of the park," said a warning on the park website. "Admittance to evacuated areas will be limited to emergency vehicles."

The government's emergency alert noted that "cottagers, campers and visitors are encouraged to leave the area."

Parks Canada said the so-called Kenow fire, which was sparked by lightening in British Columbia, has started some small spot fires in the national park near Sage Pass.

A Parks Canada national incident management team is on site, along with three initial attack crews and five helicopters, with another crew expected on Wednesday.

The fire was about 65 square kilometres in size.

Waterton National Park is located in the province's southwest and borders Glacier National Park in Montana.

The townsite includes a historic railroad hotel called the Prince of Wales, which was construction in the 1920s by the Great Northern Railway of the U.S. to lure tourists during the prohibition era.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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