DEAD MAN'S FLATS – A wildfire near Dead Man’s Flats is being held and not expected to grow after it led to sections of the Trans-Canada Highway being closed Friday night.
The cause of the fire, which was reported at about 4:30 p.m. Friday (Aug. 13), is still under investigation but lightning has been ruled out, the province confirmed.
Josee St-Onge, a provincial information officer with Alberta Wildfire’s prevention section, said the investigation is ongoing and stressed the importance of people being cautious with the entire Calgary Forest Area – which includes the Bow Valley – being under extreme wildfire risk.
“The fire danger in the Calgary Forest Area, where this wildfire is located, is extreme,” she said. “In these conditions, a wildfire can start easily and spread very quickly.
“We ask all Albertans to do their part to prevent wildfires. Last year, 88 per cent of wildfires were human-caused. There is currently a fire ban in place for the entire Calgary Forest Area, which means that outdoor camp fires are not allowed.”
She noted no infrastructure or buildings are threatened from the wildfire and 26 provincial firefighters and a helicopter are on the scene as of Monday (Aug. 16). They are focusing on “reinforcing the containment perimeter and extinguishing hot spots,” St-Onge said.
Shortly after the wildfire was reported and confirmed, firefighting crews from Canmore Fire-Rescue and Exshaw Fire-Rescue arrived on the scene. Resources from Kananaskis Emergency Services were also provided and Alberta Forestry arrived on the scene.
Police from several RCMP detachments assisted as the highway on the east lane from Bow Valley Trail to Highway 1x was blocked for several hours during Friday evening, but was reopened late Friday night. The west lane was also closed as of about 7 p.m. and one lane was reopen late Friday night, while the other lane was being used by emergency crews.
The highway was fully reopened on Saturday and there were no evacuation concerns for the Town of Canmore.
According to the Alberta Wildfire status map, the fire began at an estimated 10 hectares in size and was reduced to six hectares by Saturday afternoon.
The fire is the second major one this summer after a wildfire began July 23 near Lac des Arcs that burned 4.4 hectares of forest before it was put under control.
The wildfire also had multiple fire departments, 46 provincial firefighters, police, a water truck, an air tanker and six helicopters called in to fight the blaze that began around the rock cut by the Trans-Canada Highway.
The Calgary Forest Area has the risk of wildfire danger listed as extreme and the entire region – which includes the Bow Valley – as under a fire ban until further notice.