Out of control wildfire no danger to Fort Smith: town, Parks

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Fort Smith is in "no imminent danger" from a wildfire that continues to burn out of control in Wood Buffalo National Park, according to a bulletin from the Town of Fort Smith.

“There are no fires in the immediate area that may cause a danger to the community,” the town posted online Wednesday.

A wildfire, sparked by lightning Saturday evening, is currently blazing out of control around 25 km southwest of Fort Smith near Pine Lake and has closed down visitor traffic on the access road past the Salt River day use area.

The wildfire is currently 35,665 hectares and has reached last year’s burn area, which will limit its growth to the north despite the southerly winds, according to the latest from Wood Buffalo National Park.

Parks Canada spokesperson Tim Gauthier confirmed with The Journal Wednesday afternoon that the fire “does not threaten the community” of Fort Smith.

On Tuesday morning, a Parks Canada incident management team was called in to work with Parks’ fire management team to battle the blaze, which is one of five currently burning in the park. The other four are being observed, but are not considered threats.

Tuesday evening, Parks carried out a burnout operation to reduce the fuel sources between the fire and “key values at risk in the area,” which include the Pine Lake Recreation Area and Pine Lake Road.

Parks Canada staff were turning vehicles around on the Pine Lake access road Monday evening, only allowing those with cabins in the area past to retrieve belongings.

The Town of Fort Smith is urging residents to take precautionary measures including keeping vehicles filled up with gas, removing flammable debris from yards, cutting grass and watering lawns.

For more information on Fort Smith’s emergency preparedness guide, visit fortsmith.ca

With southerly winds still blowing, Parks Canada is warning significant smoke will be blowing into Fort Smith and could remain for the next few days. Smoke is also expected in Fort Chipewyan from other fires in Alberta on Thursday and Friday.

Fire ban for Dehcho, South Slave and North Slave

With the NWT expected to see hot and dry conditions over the next several days, the government has announced a fire ban for territorial parks and day use areas in the Dehcho, South Slave and North Slave.

Only camp stoves, enclosed barbecues, and propane fire rings within designated fire pits, are permitted.

To date there have been 63 fires in the NWT in 2014, 50 of which are still active with 11 new reported in the last 24 hours.


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