Power out in Jasper due to Chetamon wildfire, tourists asked to reschedule trips

Click to play video: 'Chetamon wildfire causes power outages in Jasper'
Chetamon wildfire causes power outages in Jasper
Jasper residents and visitors were told Monday to prepare for an extended power outage after the nearby Chetamon wildfire affected a power transmission line in Jasper National Park. Morgan Black has more from the Alberta mountain town. – Sep 5, 2022

People considering a trip to Jasper were asked to reschedule their travel plans after a power outage triggered by the nearby wildfire has left the mountain town unable to provide essential services.

Power outage

Jasper National Park and the town of Jasper are experiencing significant challenges caused by the Chetamon wildfire, Parks Canada said in an update Monday evening.

No communities are at risk from the lightning-caused blaze but a potential long-term power outage has left many non-essential community and tourism services without the ability to operate, including gas stations, food service and grocery stores.

“This morning I indicated that residents and visitors should be prepared for an extended outage. That continues to be the case,” Jasper Mayor Richard said Monday afternoon.

The Chatamon wildfire outside of Jasper continues to burn over Labour Day long weekend, 2022. Courtesy of: Parks Canada

ATCO Electric said the power went out at 4 a.m. after the wildfire affected the area’s transmission line.

Story continues below advertisement

The company said it enacted its emergency response plan to switch to generator power and restore electricity to critical infrastructure such as the hospital, fire hall, municipality’s emergency crisis center, water and waste treatment plants, traffic lights, and Jasper Activity Centre — where stations have been set up for people to charge their phones and other essential devices.

That work was complete Monday evening, when ATCO said crews were working on the next phase of the plan, which aims to to bring the rest of the townsite back online by Tuesday evening.

That phase will only support the townsite, not including campgrounds and outlying accommodations.

The Municipality of Jasper urged those who regain access to conserve energy and keep consumption low, so power can be restored to as many homes and businesses as possible.

Story continues below advertisement

While outsiders are not being turned back from visiting at this time, Parks Canada said those who have the ability to be flexible should reconsider their travel plans.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“We cannot offer all the services that people have come to expect here. That’s not to say that anything is closed, but services are limited,” Richard said of the amenities in town.

The Chetamon wildfire near the townsite in Jasper National Park on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Credit: Parks Canada

Campground closures

Due to Monday morning’s power outage, Parks Canada closed a campground earlier than planned.

The Wabasso Campground closure was not an evacuation and there was no threat to campers from this wildfire, Parks Canada said, adding the lack of power to the campground made it infeasible to provide basic services in this location.

Visitors who had their reservation cancelled will be refunded.

Story continues below advertisement

While Wapiti and Whistlers campgrounds remain open, campers are encouraged to leave the park and return another time as both are on limited services, with only cold water and flush toilets.

Click to play video: 'Motorists capture nighttime view of Alberta wildfire'
Motorists capture nighttime view of Alberta wildfire

Wildfire update

The fire, which began last Thursday, is being closely watched by Parks Canada, ATCO Electric, municipality of Jasper officials and others as it grew rapidly over the weekend, when the weather was hot and dry.

Parks Canada reported the fire was 1,500 hectares Sunday but grew to 8,000 hectares overnight into Monday, when the weather shifted: cooler temperatures and rain moved in.

It’s believed between three and five millimeters of rain fell on the wildfire area north of Jasper, which allowed crews to reassess some of the critical power lines for ATCO and the Trans Mountain pipeline, as well as take another look at the fire size.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'As Jasper’s Chetamon wildfire grows, traffic and power could be affected'
As Jasper’s Chetamon wildfire grows, traffic and power could be affected

On Monday afternoon, Parks Canada said because of reduced smoke conditions and fire behaviour, the wildfire is now estimated to be just over 6,100 hectares.

The light rain came as the wildfire extended into Snake Indian Valley along the northwest side of Highway 16 and the Athabasca River. The wildfire perimeter remains approximately 15 to 16 kilometres away from Jasper and no communities are at risk.

Parks Canada said the focus in the coming days will be to ensure the safety of the Jasper, Hinton and Brule.

— With files from Meaghan Archer, Global News

Sponsored content