Kootenay National Park wildfire rate of growth slows but still burning out of control
The pace of growth of an out of control wildfire in southern Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, close to the Alberta border, has slowed down.
As of 12 p.m. Monday, the blaze was estimated to be 259 hectares in size, Parks Canada wrote in a Facebook post.
"We have seen the rate of growth on the fire slow in the last day or so, which has definitely been helped out by the downturn in temperatures that we've had in the last day, lighter winds and cooler temperatures," said Justine Renkema, a fire information officer with Parks Canada.
"We've also received rain on the fire today, which we are expecting to continue over the next couple of days."
The fire was caused by lightning and started burning in the Mitchell Ridge area of the park on Wednesday, approximately two kilometres east of the Kootenay Valley viewpoint and seven kilometres north of Nipika Mountain Resort.
Renkema said it has continued to grow since it was reported that evening, at about 21 hectares.
The blaze grew to about 75 hectares on Saturday, and more than doubled the following day and was estimated to be about 190 hectares.
Renkema said there are scenarios in the national parks fire program where there are times when it might make ecological sense to allow a wildfire to burn within a certain area.
Due to weather conditions, that's not the case with this fire.
"Some of the periods of time when we've seen the most growth have been when those fires hit areas of forest that are overmature, that maybe haven't burned in quite a while," she said.
"That, combined with the unseasonably hot temperatures that we had earlier on in the weekend, did make things challenging for firefighters."
Parks Canada's goal with the Mitchell Ridge wildfire is to implement a full suppression with the goal of extinguishing it, Renkema said, adding that the time of year and not being peak at wildfire season yet are also factors in their decision.
According to the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard, there are 77 wildfires burning across the province with 23 classified as out of control as of Monday at 4 p.m.
Cities across the province continue to see smoke from the fires and air quality statements are still in place.
As of 3:30 p.m., the Air Quality Health Index in Calgary was listed as 8, which is considered high risk.