The lightning-ignited Wardle wildfire in Kootenay National Park near Highway 93S, looking south in the Vermilion valley. Taken August 1 2018. Parks Canada photo.

Wildfire in national park jumps B.C. highway, continues to grow

Kootenay National Park’s Wardle wildfire up to 1,200 hectares and growing

The Wardle Wildfire Complex has jumped the highway, burning on both sides of Hwy 93S in Kootenay National Park.

The fire grew overnight to an estimated 1,200 hectares, and fire officials report they expect it to grow more before crews can control it.

“The Wardle fire is exhibiting very active fire behaviour, with very dense smoke settling down in the valley,” reports Jed Cochrane, incident commander for the Wardle Wildfire Complex. “We don’t have any containment on the fire at this point. In the next couple of days, we’re expecting the fire to grow a little bit.”

Cochrane says strong winds from the south and the abundance of fuel led to it growing “quite quickly.”

Nine helicopters are bucketing to slow the fire’s growth in a couple key areas, he reports. Crews are on site, and Parks Canada is bringing in an additional 25 contract firefighters tomorrow to join the mostly Parks Canada fire crews.

“As you can appreciate, British Columbia is quite active with fires; firefighting resources are stretched,” says Cochrane. “Firefighters in there now are Parks Canada firefighters from all over the country.”

The wildfire complex began Tuesday, July 31, as several separate lightning-ignited wildfires. The fires quickly grew and on Wednesday, August 1, the two wildfires in the Vermillion Valley merged to form the Wardle Wildfire complex.

“Our priority will be to manage the Wardle fire and bring it to containment as fast as possible,” says Cochrane.

Hwy 93S is closed in the middle of Kootenay National Park. Access is open from either end, south from Radium to McLeod Meadows, including Radium Hot pools, and from the north, users can reach Paint Pots, Marble Canyon Campground, and Storm Lodge. Kootenay Park Lodge was evacuated due to the proximity of the Wardle fire to the lodge.

Cochrane assures all fire crews in the Rocky Mountain national parks are ready to go for any new fire starts that may happen in the park. Two other small fires, one in Banff National Park at Lipalian Mountain, is 100 per cent contained, with a crew back on site today to ensure the fire is put out. The other cropped up in Yoho National Park near Field and Emerald Lake, but Cochrane anticipates that fire will be extinguished by end of day today.

Outside Kootenay National Park, the Whitetail Creek fire continues to burn at an estimated 290 hectares. Cochrane says that fire is a long ways from Wardle, about 14 kilometres, and are located in two separate valleys; Whitetail is at the end of the Kootenay valley and headwaters of Beaverfoot valley; Wardle is in the Vermillion valley.

For up-to-date reports on road clsoures, Cochrane advises drivebc.ca and www.511.alberta.ca. Kootenay National Park also has a dedicated website for wildfire information.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: UVic Engineering to 3-D print 4,000 face-shields for frontline workers

Team working to ensure Island health care workers have personal protective equipment

Mental Health: Erasing stigma leads to new path for Victoria woman

Paula Roumeliotis struggled with bipolar disorder for 35 years before finding support

Health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

Most Read