May 17, 2018 3:47 pm

Prince Albert National Park wildfire 30 per cent contained

Officials say a wildfire in Prince Albert National Park began as a prescribed burn.

Prince Albert National Park / Supplied
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A wildfire burning in Prince Albert National Park in northern Saskatchewan continues to burn out of control, but crews believe they’re making significant progress to bring it under control.

The blaze, dubbed the Rabbit Fire due to its proximity to Rabbit Creek, began May 4 as a “prescribed burn.”

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“We had appropriate weather and environmental conditions to carry out a prescribed burn, and at the time there were no fire bans in place,” David Britton, the superintendent of Prince Albert National Park, said on Thursday.

READ MORE: Containing 2 Sask. wildfires ‘quite challenging’

The park was trying to manage trembling Aspen in the area to create an open grassland habitat for the Sturgeon River Plains bison herd.

“That southern part of the park was historically more open,” Britton said. “With this fire, we will see a return of grasslands in some areas, and that will actually create habitat for that bison herd.”

Two days into the burn, unforecasted winds caused the fire to spread.

The fire is currently 16,900 hectares, and the weather forecast has officials optimistic about their progress in the coming days.

The fire is 16,900 hectares in size and crews believe it’s 30 per cent contained.

Parks Canada

“With the cool easterly winds we’re experiencing, we’re seeing minimal growth,” Dean MacDonald, the fire’s incident commander, said.

READ MORE: Long, hot wildfire season forecasted by Natural Resources Canada

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Parks Canada personnel have responded to the fire , with 75 people on the fire line and 50 people on the incident management team. Another 40 are expected to arrive from Ontario this weekend.

Crews are considering the blaze contained in the southwest corner, with perimeters and containment lines being created on the east and west sides.

“We expect very minimal risk that the fire will make it past these containment lines,” MacDonald said.

As of Thursday, the fire is 40 kilometers away from Waskisiu and the parks significant infrastructure.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan issues fire ban heading into long weekend

Park officials say the park will remain open for the long weekend, but there are trail closures near the fire line.

A fire ban remains in place.

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