Wildfire danger prompts fire bans in Alberta; air quality warnings issued
A haze of smoke from Alberta and British Columbia forest fires hangs over farmer GRant Bird as he collects hay bales near Cremona, Alta., Monday, July 17, 2017. The Alberta government has issued advisories for the whole province saying that air quality is expected to vary for the coming days and, potentially, weeks.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
July 20, 2017 - 7:00 AM
CALGARY - Fire bans were in place in many areas of Alberta on Wednesday as hot, dry conditions raised the risk of wildfires and one blaze scorched an area not far from a popular Rocky Mountain ski and hiking resort.
One of the bans announced by the Alberta government is for a protected area that stretches along the foothills and mountains in the province's southwest.
No fires, including in campgrounds, are allowed. But stoves, barbecues and portable fire pits powered by gas or propane are permitted.
"Continued hot and dry weather has elevated the fire hazard to extreme levels in some areas of the province, so we are taking this proactive step to help ensure the safety of Albertans and protect our forested areas," Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said in a release.
Anyone violating bans or restrictions could get a $287 ticket.
Fires also were prohibited in all backcountry campgrounds in the provincial parks that make up the rugged recreational area of Kananaskis Country west of Calgary.
Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes national parks also had fire bans in place, as did Kootenay and Yoho across the boundary in British Columbia.
Portions of Banff and Kootenay national parks and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park were still closed because of a wildfire on the B.C. side.
Parks Canada said 60 people and five helicopters were fighting the Verdant Creek blaze, which was estimated to cover between 25 and 30 square kilometres.
The fire was about 25 kilometres from the Rocky Mountain tourist town of Banff and 2 1/2 kilometres from the Sunshine Village ski area.
"Thankfully, the area between the fire and Sunshine is high alpine terrain, with little fuel for the fire to consume," the resort said on its website Tuesday.
"Fortunately at Sunshine, due to our cut runs with little brush, we have plenty of defensible space to battle the flame."
It said Parks Canada was working hard to prevent the fire from spreading into Sunshine Meadows with its scenic hiking trails or into the village itself, which has a day lodge, hotel and restaurants.
Hoses, sprinklers and other fire-fighting equipment have been brought in as a precaution. The lodge remains open for guests, but hiking trails are closed.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017