A phased re-entry for residents, leaseholders and business owners in the Waterton townsite began Tuesday.
Only those who had been contacted by Parks Canada were allowed entry into the park.
Parks Canada spokesperson Natalie Fay told Global News the phased re-entry began at 10 a.m.
“We’ve seen a steady flow of people coming in and checking in at our reception centre and getting all the information they need, including some cleaning supplies and thick garbage bags so they can clean out their fridges.”
“Things are going very well. We’re happy to see people getting back into their homes.”
Fay said those returning to the townsite will see evidence of the fast-moving wildfire.
“The landscape certainly looks different along Highway 6 south and then as you enter the park entrance road you do see the impacts on the landscape… the burnt land. It’s charred. There are still patches of green though. There is green space.”
“As you drive into the townsite, it really is untouched by the fire.”
She said it’s up to businesses to determine when they will reopen.
WATCH: MP for Foothills John Barlow recently shared some aerial footage of the devastation left by the Kenow Mountain wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Fay said they’re asking residents to be cautious of wildlife in and around the townsite.
“We are still seeing wildlife and animals in and around the townsite, but that also means we’re seeing a higher frequency of wildlife – especially of bears, who are feeding on vegetation that we have around the townsite.”
Fay said as of Tuesday, two animals had been euthanized as a result of wildfire.
Parks Canada said they will let the general public know when access to the Waterton townsite is restored.
Parks Canada says Kenow Fire ‘being held’
On Tuesday, Parks Canada announced the Kenow Fire that forced the evacuation of Waterton Lakes National Park was being held.
“What that means is we don’t anticipate any growth of the fire perimeter based on our current suppression actions as well as the forecast that we see,” Fay said.
According to Parks Canada, a cold front moving into the area overnight is expected to bring cooler temperatures and limited precipitation for the next three days.
The fire remains active and covers an area of approximately 38,100 hectares.
“Fire activity is predominantly on the fire perimeter, and at localized hot spots within the perimeter where pockets of unburned fuels remain,” a Parks Canada release stated. “Fire activity, including smoke and flame may be visible to the public in some areas, especially in the evening when darkness increases visibility of flames.”
Castle Mountain Resort fire update: now 221 hectares in size
The fire near Castle Mountain Resort has seen minimal activity over the past few days, according to Parks Canada.
“The fire is estimated to be 221 hectares in size, which is due to more accurate mapping and measurement rather than a change in the fire’s size.”
“Conditions continue to allow for the use of aircraft for both assessment and suppression as required. Crews continue to be deployed on the ground as well.”
The wildfire is located approximately 23 kilometres from Castle Mountain Resort and 30 kilometres from Beaver Mines.
What’s open and what’s closed
- Waterton Lakes National Park is closed to the general public: www.parkscanada.ca/waterton-kenow-fire
- Calgary Forest Protection Area south of Highway 532 remains closed at this time: http://srd.web.alberta.ca/calgary-area-update
Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for:
- Pincher Creek residents south of Oil Basin Road (Township Road 32) to Waterton Park.
- All areas of Waterton Lakes National Park, including the Waterton townsite and all front-country and back-country trails. Admittance at the park gate is limited to essential personnel. Highways within Waterton Lakes National Park are closed due to wildfire activity (Highways 5, 6 and Chief Mountain border crossing).
For more information contact the Parks Canada information line at 403-859-5109.