Calgary

Verdant Creek wildfire still burning out of control but hasn't jumped Continental Divide

Hot, dry conditions are hampering efforts to get a handle on the Verdant Creek wildfire, which is continuing to burn out of control a day after it forced officials to evacuate nearby Sunshine Village.

Difficult terrain and extreme fire behaviour hampering firefighting efforts

Smoke from the Verdant Creek wildfire billows just to the southwest of Sunshine Village on July 30, one day before Parks Canada ordered the resort to close down for the second time in two weeks. (Sabri Shawa)

Hot, dry conditions are hampering efforts to get a handle on the Verdant Creek wildfire, which is continuing to burn out of control a day after it forced officials to evacuate nearby Sunshine Village.

There are about 80 personnel and eight aircraft trying to keep the 5,100-hectare fire on the west side of the Continental Divide, said Parks Canada incident commander Jane Park.

Difficult terrain and extreme fire behaviour is making it impossible to add more resources, and Park doesn't expect that to change in the near future.

"Given the forecast for hot and dry weather we expect that this increase in fire behaviour and potential fire spread will continue for the next few days, and that smoke will be visible from the Bow and the Columbia valleys," she said.

"At this time we are trying to hold the fire at its current position on the flanks in the north and the southwest."

On Monday, Parks Canada ordered the evacuation of Sunshine Village resort for the second time in two weeks, but officials say the fire is still on the west side of the Continental Divide and poses no threat to any communities.

B.C. officials ordered Assiniboine Lodge, about 30 kilometres to the south on the west side of the Continental Divide, to shut down as well.

And Parks Canada officials reinstituted closures in Banff National Park, including:

  • All trails in the Egypt Lake area
  • Healy Pass
  • Citadel Pass
  • Sunshine Meadows
  • Backcountry campgrounds Re16, E13 and E5 

Sunshine Village's roughly 100 staff members displaced by the fire were moved to the Fenlands Recreation Centre in Banff.

Chief operating officer Dave Riley says it's been a tough summer.

"It's a big impact on not only our guests but we're very concerned about our staff," he said.

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