No new wildfires reported as fire bans blanket parts of southern Alberta

Fire bans and restrictions cover most of southern Alberta over the weekend. New fires have only been sparked in more northern parts of the province but all are under control, according to Alberta Wildfire.

Verdant Creek fire is being 'actively managed' by Parks Canada fire management personnel

Fire bans and restrictions have been put in place by multiple authorities across southern Alberta to try and prevent further wildfires from catching. (Alberta Parks and Wildfire Alberta)

Fire bans and restrictions cover most of southern Alberta this warm July weekend, in an attempt to keep new fires from sparking — an effort that appears to be working with no new fires in the region over the past 24 hours. 

Six new fires have been sparked in more northern parts of the province, most caused by lightning. Of those, five were extinguished and one continues to burn but remains under control, according to Alberta Wildfire. 

The City of Calgary remains one of the only places in southern Alberta without any fire bans or advisories in effect. 

Visit the Alberta fire bans website or Alberta Parks website for more details on where restrictions are in place. 

Verdant Creek fire

Parks Canada staff continue to "actively manage" a fire in Kootenay National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. 

In a release Saturday morning, a spokesperson said the fire has not crossed the continental divide between Alberta and B.C. and remains roughly 24 kilometres from the Banff townsite and 2.5 kilometres from the Sunshine Village ski resort.

Conditions on Friday allowed Parks Canada staff to conduct a mapping flight around the fire to estimate the size of the blaze. It's estimated to be about 4,100 hectares. 
Smoke from the Verdant Creek fire billows over a mountain west of Egypt Lake in Banff National Park on Tuesday. (Parks Canada)

Backcountry area closures remain in place in the Verdant Creek area of Kootenay National Park and in the Egypt Lake and Brewster Creek areas of Banff National Park. 

On Sunday, Parks Canada said Sunshine Village would re-open on Monday, with access to Sunshine Road, the gondola and upper village. Hiking trails, however, will remain closed. 

"A fire ban remains in effect for all mountain national parks due to the elevated fire danger and to prevent the possibility of human-caused fires," Saturday's release read. 

Alberta still behind 10-year averages

As of 10 a.m. Saturday, 12 fires were burning in Alberta, bringing the total number of fires so far this year to 775, according to Alberta Wildfire statistics. That total is still well behind the five- and 10-year averages.

The number of hectares burned in Alberta is also below average in 2017, with roughly 3,040 hectares burned this year, compared to the five-year average of 291,456 hectares. The Fort McMurray fire would have skewed this data upwards in 2016 having burned nearly 590,000 hectares.