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Waterton wildfire update: blaze grows by 33,000 hectares, visitor centre lost

WATCH: It’s hoped cool weather on Wednesday may help firefighters battling the Waterton wildfire. Joel Senick has details from outside Waterton Lakes National Park.

UPDATE: Waterton wildfire Wednesday – evacuees eager for updates as donations pour in

The main visitor centre at Waterton Lakes National Park has been lost to the fast-moving Kenow Mountain wildfire, according to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“In the town of Waterton, roughly 45 structural firefighters from neighbouring municipalities, including the city of Calgary, are working to protect the structures within the perimeter of the town,” Notley said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, structures outside the perimeter have been lost, including the visitor centre and several other buildings.”

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Scroll down for information on evacuations in the area. 

WATCH: Amateur video shows crews fighting the devastating Kenow Mountain wildfire burning in Waterton Lakes National Park.

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The most recent map provided by Parks Canada shows the fire has grown about 33,000 hectares since Monday.

“The fire is out of control,” said Leslie Lozinski from Alberta Agriculture. “It is classified as out of control and it will probably remain out of control for some time until we see significant change in the fire behaviour.”

“What’s going to happen overnight? We don’t know. But going into it, it’s a little bit calmer than it was last night and we’re hoping it’s going to stay that way.”

Watch below: Some videos from Tuesday night’s press conference with new details about the Waterton-area wildfires.

Parks Canada released this map of the Menow Mountain wildfire’s growth as of 7:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Parks Canada released this map of the Menow Mountain wildfire’s growth as of 7:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Parks Canada

View photos of the fire below:

On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it."
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it." COURTESY: Carter Marr
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it."
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it." COURTESY: Carter Marr
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it."  He said that allowed to "open gates for cattle close to the flames."
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it." He said that allowed to "open gates for cattle close to the flames." COURTESY: Carter Marr
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it."
On Tuesday, a southern Alberta rancher said the Kenow Mountain wildfire had "slowed with the wind switching back on it." COURTESY: Carter Marr
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Cool, damp weather is expected to move into the region overnight.

Parks Canada maintained the townsite was unaffected by the spreading fire, with the exception of the visitor centre which sits just adjacent to the town’s boundary.

“We’re still doing an assessment and we need to be able to complete that assessment before we have a determination of what may have happened,” Supt. Ifan Thomas said.

The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel is still intact, according to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

WATCH: Natalie Fay from Parks Canada discusses the damage to infrastructure in Waterton Lakes National Park.

‘The townsite remains intact’: Parks Canada
‘The townsite remains intact’: Parks Canada

For the latest update from Parks Canada, click here

The growth overnight Monday was due to weather conditions, not a controlled burn or fire management measures. It’s expected “extreme fire behaviour” will continue for another day.

For information on the current status of Alberta wildfires, click here. For B.C. wildfires, click here.

The wildfire is still affecting many back-country and front-country areas in the park, including the Cameron Valley, the Crandell Mountain area, the Blakiston Valley and grasslands in the north of the park.

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WATCH: Global photographer Tim Lee captured these images as water bombers continue to fly overhead, attacking the wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Water bombers over Waterton
Water bombers over Waterton

Highways within Waterton Lakes National Park are closed due to wildfire activity (Highways 5, 6 and Chief Mountain border crossing).

Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11.
Crews battle the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday, Sept. 11. Contributed/Brennen Hanna
A home is seen burned to the ground near Waterton Lakes National Park where the Kenow Mountain wildfire is burning out of control.
A home is seen burned to the ground near Waterton Lakes National Park where the Kenow Mountain wildfire is burning out of control. Twitter/@SierraGarner7
The Prince of Wales Hotel is seen in a cloud of smoke as the Kenow Mountain wildfire burns in Waterton Lakes National Park.
The Prince of Wales Hotel is seen in a cloud of smoke as the Kenow Mountain wildfire burns in Waterton Lakes National Park. Twitter/TheDewser
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park. Contributed/Wes Schwindt
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park. Contributed/Wes Schwindt
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park. Contributed/Wes Schwindt
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Extensive damage from the Kenow Mountain wildfire is seen in Waterton Lakes National Park. Contributed/Wes Schwindt
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night.
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night. Contributed/Paul Sloan
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night.
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night. Contributed/Paul Sloan
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night.
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night. Contributed/Paul Sloan
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night.
Fire spreads along Bears Hump Mountain near Waterton Lakes National Park on Monday night. Contributed/Paul Sloan

A mandatory evacuation remains in effect for all areas of Waterton Lakes National Park, including the Waterton townsite and all front-country and back-country trails. All residents and non-essential personnel have been safely evacuated and the townsite is secure. Admittance at the park gate is limited to essential personnel.

WATCH: RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters explains what the evacuation process over the last few days in southern Alberta.

RCMP managing evacuation points throughout affected areas
RCMP managing evacuation points throughout affected areas

What’s open and what’s closed: 

Information from Parks Canada for residents under evacuation:

  • You must leave the area immediately;
  • If you need transportation assistance to leave Waterton, please (a) advise the individual providing you with this in-person notice, (b) go to Waterton Park Community Centre or (c) call 403-859-5109 if you cannot do (a) or (b);
  • Close all windows and doors;
  • Shut off all gas and electrical appliances, other than refrigerators and freezers;
  • Close gates (latch) but do not lock;
  • Gather your family: take a neighbour or someone who needs help;
  • Take critical items (medicine, purse, wallet, important documents, and keys) only if they are immediately available;
  • Take pets in pet kennels or on leash;
  • Do not use the telephone unless you need emergency service;
  • Emergency personnel will check all houses and locations and mark them when cleared;
  • Travel will only be permitted out of the park. Admittance at the Waterton Lakes National Park gate will be limited to emergency vehicles.
  • All evacuees are strongly recommended to register at the reception and evacuation centre located in Pincher Creek at the 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 mdinfo@mdpinchercreek.ab.ca (put in subject line: “Evac Registration”) or by phoning 403-904-0021. Please provide name, number in party and contact phone number.
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For more information contact the Parks Canada information line at 403-859-5109.

Blood Tribe: under a mandatory evacuation

The Blood Tribe remains under a local state of emergency due to the Waterton Parks wildfire potentially reaching the community, located southwest of Lethbridge.

A mandatory evacuation order has been declared for the Zone 1 area, which includes Fish Creek and St. Paul’s area extending north to Russell/Many Fingers residences.

Residence in Zone 3 (north of Russell, Many Fingers residences extending to Lavern and little Chicago area) should prepare to evacuate on short notice.

Evacuation:

Evacuees are directed to go to the Standoff multi-purpose building and register.

Contact the Blood Tribe Police if you have transportation concerns.

Those unable to leave on their own are asked to contact Blood Tribe police for assistance.

Cardston County: under a mandatory evacuation

Cardston remains under a local state of emergency after a wildfire left Waterton Park and spread to the county.

Smoke may severely reduce visibility and create hazardous road conditions.

Evacuation: 

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for all areas between Waterton Park and Range Road 281 (Highway 800) from the U.S. border north to Township Road 40.

The evacuation centre is located at the Civic Centre 67 on 3 Avenue West in Cardston. The phone number is 403-653-3366.

Pincher Creek: under a mandatory evacuation

A state of local emergency has been issued for the entire MD of Pincher Creek.

Evacuation: 

A Mandatory Evacuation Notice is being issued to the residents south of Highway 505 to Waterton Park and Castle Mountain Resort.

A reception centre is set up at the Vertical Church, located in the 1200 block of Ken Thornton Boulevard.

Residents evacuating should go the reception centre or call 403-904-8016 to register.

Evacuee registration and assistance

Evacuees should register at the reception centre by phone or email, even if they do not need assistance. Registering will provide a record that you were evacuated and enable authorities to contact you with any new information. Please provide your name, number of people in your party and phone number.

Pincher Creek and Waterton area reception centre
Vertical Church, 1200 Ken Thornton Blvd, Pincher Creek
403-904-8016
mdpinchercreek.ab.ca

Cardston County
Evacuees should contact 403-653-3366
cardstoncounty.com

Blood Reserve reception centre
Standoff multipurpose building
bloodtribe.org

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