WATERTON LAKES NP - There is a mandatory evacuation order in effect for Waterton Lakes National Park, including the townsite, as issued by Parks Canada at 1:47pm Friday, September 9.
The evacuation order was issued because of the approaching Kenow fire.
At a news conference in Lethbridge Friday (Sept 8) afternoon, Agriculture and Forestry Information Officer, Matthew Anderson, confirmed the wildfire had not yet reached the park boundary. However, conditions were preventing his department from getting accurate information on the fire's leading edge.
"It is simply too smoky, which is hindering a high altitude aerial scan of the area and we have no accurate location of the fire lead."
Unfortunately, by 5:30-pm, the province confirmed the fire had crossed the border into Waterton Lakes National Park.
Anderson stated that there are 840 fire fighters at the ready, as well as land equipment and aircraft to move-in if needed.
At the same news conference, Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, confirmed the evacuation was undertaken Friday afternoon due to smoke density and extreme hazard, and they were not anxious to call an evacuation during the evening or over night, which would likely lead to further complications. It was safer to evacuate while there was still a degree of daylight to accommodate the move out.
There is NO local State of Emergency in Pincher Creek at this time.
In terms of the evacuation, residents and visitors from Waterton Lakes National Park were to go to the reception centre at the Vertical Church on 1200 Ken Thornton Blvd. in Pincher Creek to check in for information.
The church stepped forward and offered its space to the province. It's expected 60 to 100 people may have to be accommodated at the church.
Evacuees can check in by person, or by phone at 403-904-0021 or by e-mailing [email protected]
Instructions were for EVERYONE in Waterton Lakes National Park, including the townsite to evacuate immediately. Take all necessary precautions and avoid the area. Visibility will be affected. Highways 5 and 6 and the Chief Mountain Border crossing remain open.
More information relating to the evacuation and what residents should do can be found on the Parks Canada website.
Also, if anyone observes smoke in the forest or the tree line, it should be reported Toll Free: 310-FIRE (3473) or access wildfire.alberta.ca
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