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.

Just Posted

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

B.C. golfer, just 23, scores the rare albatross

Six-million-to-one shot a first for the Terrace club

Most Read