Chetamon wildfire: Jasper remains powered by generator, fire activity expected to decrease


The Chetamon Wildfire continues to burn outside the town of Jasper, Alberta, but firefighters, Parks Canada and ATCO crews were all able to make good progress over the weekend.

According to Parks Canada, more than 125 firefighters and nine helicopters are preventing the fire from spreading to communities and critical infrastructure.

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Jasper’s electrical situation could remain unstable for weeks due to wildfire damage

Incident Commander Landon Shepherd said on Sunday there was « negligible growth » on Saturday, with a lot of water bucket support and fire suppression on the ground.

« We’re going to be able to secure some parts of this fire…but we don’t expect to be able to put the fire out, especially along that long northwest flank, » Shepherd said.

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He explained that fall, cooler weather and rain or snow will likely be the reason for the wildfire to go out completely.

“There are still no communities currently threatened by this wildfire,” he added, referring to Jasper and West Yellowhead County to the north.

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Jasper in a precarious situation as the current is unstable and the Chetamon wildfire still burns

Jasper in a precarious situation as the current is unstable and the Chetamon wildfire still burns

The fire, estimated to be around 5,800 hectares in size, damaged ATCO Electric’s power line last weekend, disrupting Jasper’s power supply.

Since then, ATCO has been using an emergency generator power system, but has had difficulty connecting the various pieces of equipment without tripping the system as it works to restore the permanent transmission system.

Parks Canada also assisted ATCO crews in accessing damaged infrastructure to reactivate and repair the transmission line.

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« They had a lot of success there, » Shepherd said. « They developed a great process and put in place complex structures in a very short time. »

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‘The situation is precarious’: Ongoing power outages in Jasper as wildfires burn

Parks Canada and the city are still discouraging people from visiting Jasper at this time.

“We are unable to provide more than essential and critical services at this time,” Shepherd said.

Campgrounds will be closed until at least September 25, he said.

Since the Town of Jasper is generator-operated, it will experience intermittent power outages and reduced power supply.

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On Sunday, ATCO said it was able to restore and maintain generator power to about 90% of the city.

However, he still asked residents and businesses to save energy.

« We think residents fully understand the message and we really appreciate it, » ATCO spokeswoman Amanda Mattern said. “We must continue these efforts over the next few days.

« Generator power does not have the same reliability as our transmission system, so simple power saving measures will help maintain the generator system. »

She suggested some energy-saving measures, including turning off the lights, turning off the air conditioning, and reducing the use of energy-intensive appliances (dishwasher, washer/dryer).

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As of Sunday, there were seven generators on site, Mattern said.

“There are enough generations to meet the needs of the city. However, we continue to see stability issues so we are being very careful when adding.

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Motorists capture nighttime view of Alberta wildfire

Motorists capture a nighttime view of a wildfire in Alberta – September 5, 2022

Mayor Richard Ireland said the municipality is prioritizing its energy use for critical infrastructure, residents and essential services like gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies.

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“We expect intermittent outages to continue as long as we remain connected to generator power, which ATCO has indicated for the next few weeks,” he said Sunday.

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He thanked the firefighters, Parks Canada, utility crews and residents of Jasper for their hard work, cooperation and patience.

“We acknowledge and thank the many companies that have voluntarily acquired their own generators and committed to staying on this power source to free up load capacity for critical infrastructure, for residents and for essential services until long-term solutions are found, » said Ireland.

“We have seen a united community response to a most serious and significant community threat. I couldn’t be more proud and grateful to the community.

Chetamon Wildfire near Jasper, Alberta on Sunday, September 11, 2022.

Parks Canada

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