Waterton Fire Destroys Buildings on Outer Perimeter of Park; Blaze Grows to 20,000 Hectares

Still photo from video of burned out Waterton Visitor Centre. Credit to Wes Dewsbury

A raging wildfire continues to burn in and around Waterton Lakes National Park. Shell Canada is shutting down some gas operations in its Waterton complex with the blaze nearby.

Some heart-wrenching photos and video posted to social media showing significant fire damage around Waterton Lakes National Park. Parks Canada's update on the situation just before noon Tuesday says the blaze has continued to exhibit intense behaviour and at this time the "majority" of the townsite looks to be intact. Premier Rachel Notley, speaking to media says the blaze has grew by 50% overnight Monday into Tuesday to more than 20,000 hectares in size and spread rapidly down the Cameron Valley and along the Akamina Parkway. The fire jumped the park forcing mandatory evacuations in parts of Cardston County, MD of Pincher Creek, and the Blood Reserve as well as States of Local Emergency. Notley says the province is working in a unified effort to fight the blaze. Bernie Schmidt with Alberta Forestry says when the fire jumped the park and hit neighbouring grasslands, it took off quickly and that's what prompted the other evacuation orders. Hundreds of firefighters and equipment continue to fight the fires and Preimer Notley says additional resources have been dispatched to help. Meanwhile, the weather situation is being monitored closely. A change to much cooler temperatures and even some rain is forecast for southwest Alberta. Right now the early indications are 10-25 mm of rain for areas around Waterton and east to Lethbridge Thursday and Friday. A return to sun, cloud and drier weather is expected by Sunday. Although temperatures are not expected to be nearly as hot as it has been, after Saturday night there is very little precipitation in the long range forecast. Meanwhile, Shell Canada is shutting down some gas operations in its Waterton complex as the wildfire rages nearby. The Waterton complex includes natural gas wells and a processing plant and has production capacity of nearly 179 million cubic feet per day. So far the company has not shut its Waterton gas plant, but is closely monitoring the situation. - Pat Siedlecki & Tina Giesbrecht

Below: Video of Premier Press Conference on southwest Alberta fires

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