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Parks Canada prescribed burn in Banff becomes out-of-control fire after wind picks up

Click to play video: 'Banff family heirlooms destroyed in out of control fire'
Banff family heirlooms destroyed in out of control fire
WATCH: Parks Canada and members of Banff Fire Department are assessing the damage left when a prescribed burn went out of control on the outskirts of the townsite. Global's Jayme Doll reports – May 4, 2023

What was intended to be a controlled burn by Parks Canada turned into an out-of-control wildfire in the Banff townsite Wednesday afternoon.

Parks Canada said it was carrying out a prescribed fire in Compound Meadows in Banff National Park when around 4 p.m., “due to an unexpected shift in wind direction and speed,” the fire escaped the predetermined boundary.

About three hectares of land, or just over the size of a football field, was burnt outside of the unit boundary, the government agency said.

Smoke and flames were highly visible from Banff Avenue, the Trans-Canada Highway and down the road in Canmore.

A wildfire in Banff National Park on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Global News

Authorities warned people to avoid the area of Banff Avenue near Highway 1 after the flames jumped the avenue.

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Click to play video: 'Banff prescribed burn being held for now'
Banff prescribed burn being held for now

The national park warned of delays along the Trans-Canada Highway due to smoke from the fire.

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“There is no immediate threat to the Town of Banff and no official evacuation alert,” Parks Canada said in a statement earlier in the evening.

The Town of Banff also issued an alert around 5 p.m., saying the prescribed burn was approaching the area of the Mountainview Cemetery and horse corrals immediately north of the cemetery.

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An evacuation order was also issued at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, south of the cemetery. The order was cancelled a few hours later.

Click to play video: 'Banff prescribed burn grows out of control forcing evacuations'
Banff prescribed burn grows out of control forcing evacuations

Just after 10:30 p.m., Parks Canada said the fire was classified as “being held” thanks to helicopter bucketing, fire personnel, and assisting agencies.

“Evening precipitation has further assisted with suppression and given current weather conditions and resources, the fire is not anticipated to grow beyond expected boundaries,” the agency said on Twitter.

“Fire personnel will continue to work on the fire tomorrow and in coming days as required.”

Parks Canada said more information would be provided Thursday by 10:30 a.m.

Click to play video: 'Prescribed burn in Banff turns into out-of-control fire'
Prescribed burn in Banff turns into out-of-control fire

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