On Sept 3 the Kenow Mountain fire ignited by lighting, was immediately to the west of Waterton Lakes National Park in southeast British Columbia, on the park boundary at Sage Pass and South Kootenay Pass. As you see from the progression below, the firemen had enough time to prepare and were able to save the townsite – that was absolutely amazing. We spend a lot of time there and it just broke our hearts to watch this unfold.
Sept 5: Waterton was given the evacuation notice. The fire had not yet advanced into the park a that time.
Sept 8: All areas in Waterton Lakes National Park, including the Waterton Park townsite and all front-country and back-country trails, facilities and areas except for Highways 5 and 6 and the Chief Mountain border crossing were on evacuation order.
Sept 9: The Kenow fire is now approximately 8,500 hectares. Yesterday the fire moved 2 kilometres in British Columbia. It continues to move south along the Akamina Valley today. Parks Canada is holding the wildfire at the South Kootenay and Sage passes and managing a small spot fire (0.5 ha.) at Sage Pass. The fire is approximately 15 to 20 kilometres away from the Waterton townsite.
Sept 11: Fire is now firmly established in the Cameron Valley along the Akamina Parkway.
There is also fire in the Tamarack Basin which is expected to grow and move into the Blakiston Valley and towards the Red Rock Parkway.
Sept 12: The Kenow Fire firmly established itself in Waterton Lakes National Park yesterday afternoon. Adjacent municipalities were alerted that the fire was moving. The wildfire demonstrated extreme fire behaviour for many hours due to high winds and critically dry fuels. Burning intensified and the fire moved northeast down the Cameron Valley along the Akamina Parkway. Later in the evening, fire became visible from the townsite and then on the north side of Crandell Mountain. The fire began to move north at a high rate of spread through the grasslands along the park’s Entrance Road.
Sept 13: Fire demonstrated aggressive fire behaviour for many hours due to high winds and critically dry fuels. The fire moved north at a high rate of spread along the Akamina parkway, through grasslands along the Waterton Lakes National Park’s Entrance Road and moved outside of the park boundaries. We estimate that the Kenow wildfire now covers an area of approximately 35,000 hectares.
Sept 14: Fire still remains active and is classified as out of control (36,000 hectares). Helicopters and other aircraft continue to conduct aerial suppression tactics in the area. The Kenow Fire did not demonstrate any growth over night. The townsite itself and the values within it are not considered to be at risk at this time.
Sept 19: The Kenow Fire is now classified as being held. The fire remains active and covers an area of approximately 38,100 hectares.
Sept 20: The Evacuation Order has been lifted and the park has been re-opened to residents, leaseholders, business owners as well as members of the public, but with significantly reduced services. At this time, only the Entrance road, Chief Mountain Highway and the community of Waterton are open. All other roads and areas in the park remain closed for safety reasons. Due to the high intensity of the fire, there are a large number of danger trees, rock falls, and other hazards that remain throughout the park.
Sept 21: Fire is now classified as being held. The fire remains active and covers an area of approximately 38,100 hectares.
Oct 3: The portion of the Kenow Fire in Waterton Lakes National Park is now classified as ‘under control’ and ‘being patrolled’, and not expected to spread further, in part due to snowfall in excess of 20 centimetres on October 2. Parks Canada will continue to monitor the situation, and identify and extinguish hot spots as needed. Smoke may still be visible for several weeks and hot spots could continue to smoulder throughout the winter.
Reference: Parks Canada Important Bulletins