Slight wildfire growth near Waterton as evacuation alert remains in place

A photo of the smoke from a wildfire threatening Waterton Lakes National Park. Aug. 23, 2018. Dan Rafla/Parks Canada

Parks Canada officials are saying that the out-of-control Boundary Wildfire in Glacier National Park, Mont. did not grow significantly on Friday night but grew slightly on Saturday.

An update released early Saturday afternoon said there was hardly any rain overnight Friday and heavy smoke in the air Saturday morning with the forecast calling for lower than seasonal temperatures.

The wildfire remained about seven kilometres from the Waterton townsite, and Parks Canada said the wildfire exhibited “moderately active fire behaviour” Saturday evening, moving slightly to the north and east, reaching Boundary Creek.

The Boundary Wildfire on Aug. 25, 2018. Parks Canada/Ryan Peruniak

“A significant amount of rain is forecast for Sunday night and Monday,” a release said.

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Sunday’s forecast from Parks Canada expected higher southwest winds and 10-20mm of rainfall until Monday, with officials adding that high relative humidity of 60 to 70 per cent will “constrain fire behaviour.”

A news release from Glacier National Park echoed that statement, saying a “cooler and wetter weather system will move through the area Sunday night and Monday, with below-normal temperatures, rain and snow above 8,000 feet. This weather change may slow fire spread, but fire managers do not expect the precipitation to extinguish the fire.”

A map of the Boundary Wildfire on Aug. 26, 2018. Parks Canada

Parks Canada officials said the fire grew from 770 hectares in size on Saturday to 860 hectares on Sunday but still remains in the Boundary Creek Valley in Glacier National Park.

“Parks Canada and the U.S. National Park Service are coordinating efforts closely and are in constant communication about fire activity and response,” the update read.

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The Boundary Wildfire on Aug. 25, 2018. Parks Canada/Ryan Peruniak

Aerial crews were not able to drop water on the fire on Friday because of gusty winds and low-lying smoke. On Sunday, however, a Parks Canada helicopter was able to bucket water on the fire to hold it at Boundary Creek.

Glacier National Park said Saturday it had a crew of 24 firefighters working at Goat Haunt to finish “preventative structure protection,” which includes installing pumps and sprinklers for 14 buildings.

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An evacuation alert was issued for Waterton Lakes National Park on Thursday night and warned people to be ready to leave the area quickly if needed. The evacuation alert remained in place on Saturday afternoon.

All of Waterton Lakes National Park is closed except for the townsite, Highway 5/6 and Chief Mountain Highway.

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“The safety of the public, our crews, infrastructure and neighbouring lands is always Parks Canada’s priority.”

The Boundary Wildfire on Aug. 25, 2018. Parks Canada/Ryan Peruniak

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