July 7, 2014 1:44 pm

UPDATE: Largest wildfire in Alberta being held

A 700-hectare wildfire burns near the Banff National Park border, about 50 kilometres west of Nordegg Saturday, July 5, 2014.

Supplied, ESRD

EDMONTON – The province says the largest wildfire in Alberta is being held at just over 1,500 hectares in size.

The blaze is in the Rocky Wildfire Management area about 50 kilometres west of Nordegg and campers in the area have relocated as a precaution due to smoky conditions.

A section of Highway 11 was also closed and firefighters created fire guards over the weekend to help contain the spread.

The province has also been providing protection for nearby cabins and campgrounds.

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Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development says the 700-hectare fire was caused by a lightning strike. It was reported around 10:15 Friday night.

“It was dry weather and also, the area that it’s burning in hasn’t seen a wildfire in over 400 years,” said Barry Shellian, a wildfire ranger with ESRD.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday, Shellian said the fire was being held by natural fire barriers like the North Saskatchewan River.

Twelve firefighters and four helicopters have been called in to manage the wildfire.

Shellian says wildfires are a natural part of a healthy forest and they’re necessary for the ecological process.

“Wildfires, like I said before, [are] an integral part of Alberta’s fire dependent landscape and a wildfire… increases and maintains a healthy forest and promotes biodiversity for the future.”

Motorists are being asked to be mindful of road signs while driving through the region.

With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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