Wildfire on Jasper’s Chetamon Mountain will grow with winds and heat

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An out of control wildfire in Jasper National Park is expected to grow over the weekend with temperatures rising in the forecast.

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The Chetamon Mountain Wildfire was burning over approximately 400 hectares at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

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Parks Canada spokeswoman Katie Ellsworth said a thunderstorm started the blaze on September 1 at the 2,606-metre summit, making any effort on the ground to contain the blaze too risky.

“Due to its location, steep terrain and lack of water resources, we are unable to safely position fire crews to operate along the flanks,” Ellsworth said. “Most of our firefighting operations consist of helicopters using buckets and using water resources that way.”

“It’s going to be quite warm today with low humidity levels, so we’re expecting an active fire during the peak burning period,” she added.

Smoke from the fire is visible looking north from the Jasper townsite. The fire poses no risk to the town, but has prompted Parks Canada fire crews to take action to protect utility corridors, as well as a caretaker’s cabin and the historic Moberly Homestead.

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Smoke from the Chetamon Mountain wildfire. Photo by Fourni /00097453A

Ellsworth said the fire is currently burning in a spruce forest and not in dry mountain pine beetle-killed trees, which tend to be at lower elevations.

“Right now it’s not in the worst pine beetle zone,” she said.

Ellsworth added that while a September wildfire is not unusual in Jasper, climate change is likely contributing to more fires late in the season.

“This is a somewhat later wildfire, although it is not uncommon for Jasper National Park to have a somewhat slower start to spring due to the location in the mountains,” she said. “Our most active fire periods are generally July through September.”

The forecast called for a high of 32°C in Jasper on Saturday.

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