Parks Canada has lifted its evacuation alert for Waterton Lakes National Park after recent rain has suppressed the Boundary wildfire in bordering Glacier National Park.
The fire south of the Canada-U.S. border remains active at about 860 hectares in size.
Parks Canada spokesperson John Stoesser told Global News that the fire has remained away from the townsite.
“It is right on the boundary of Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park, and it hasn’t entered Waterton Lakes National Park. The fire is approximately seven kilometres away from the townsite.”
Parks Canada says fire activity, including smoke and flames, may continue to be visible to the public in some areas as fairer weather returns to the region.
The park has reopened most areas that were closed on Aug. 24, including:
- Crypt Lake trail
- Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake trails, including Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake backcountry campgrounds
- Emerald Bay Day Use Area
- Driftwood Beach
- Alpine Stables
- Hay Barn Road
- Crandell Loop
- Knight’s Lake
- Wishbone trail
- Non-motorized access to Red Rock Parkway up to Coppermine Creek
- Access to water bodies
The evacuation alert was issued Thursday evening as crews rushed to clear the backgrountry trails and campgrounds of visitors. Parks Canada closed the entirety of Waterton Lakes National Park with the exception of the townsite, highways 5 and 6 and the Chief Mountain Highway.
Stoesser said recent rain has aided trans-border containment of the wildfire.
“The fire got approximately 32mm of rain, which was even better than what was expected, it’s really good. However, that’s not enough to extinguish this fire. The fire behaviour has been suppressed for the time being.
“So that’s why we’ve been able to remove this evacuation alert, is because of a combination of a downturn in the weather and this rain that has suppressed fire activity, and also because of the suppression actions undertaken by Parks Canada. We were bucketing a hotspot yesterday morning. And also because of the actions of our partners. This fire is now being managed by the U.S. National Parks service.
“They were able to do some burning to remove fuels, to burn fuels, to also help contain this fire.”
The U.S. National Park Service said all trails originating at Goat Haunt in Glacier National Park are closed. Boat tours operated by Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company continue on Wateron Lake, but cruises are not landing at Goat Haunt.
“We know the fire hasn’t gone out,” Stoesser said. “We will continue to coordinate closely with our counterparts in the U.S. If it becomes a situation where the fire behaviour kicks back up again and it does pose some risk to the townsite that warrants an evacuation alert, we would put one back in place if necessary.”
Residents and visitors are encouraged to keep their evacuation plans ready.
“The burning season goes into September — and even into October a little bit — so we always recommend people to have an emergency preparedness kit and an emergency plan ready to go.”