Parks Canada to let Chetamon Mountain wildfire burn to promote ecological growth

The Chetamon Mountain wildfire in Jasper National Park will continue to burn in a controlled manner to help revitalize ecological growth, Parks Canada says.

The controlled burn also creates fuel breaks, limiting spread of future wildfire

Fire crews were able to hold the wildfire on Chetamon Mountain, in Jasper National Park, to about 6,000 hectares in size. (Submitted by Parks Canada)

The Chetamon Mountain wildfire in Jasper National Park will continue to burn in a controlled manner to help revitalize ecological growth, Parks Canada says.

Fire management officials examined the area last weekend, particularly the western region of the fire. They determined the fire would be left to spread along the western perimeter into the Chetamon Mountain basin, Vine Creek valley, Corral Creek valley and Snake-Indian River valley.

"Natural features within these valleys, such as rocky ridges, water, and low-lying moist areas will help to contain the spread within the western flank," Parks Canada said in a news release Monday.

The fire, burning well north of Jasper, Alta., a municipality about 365 kilometres west of Edmonton, ignited after lightning struck on Sept. 1.

It grew to about 6,000 hectares before fire crews were able to hold it earlier this month.

Parks Canada officials have previously said they would allow the fire to continue to burn in a controlled manner, because it can promote ecological growth.

"It's a natural process and then, if it's done in the right circumstances and conditions, it's beneficial," Brad Romaniuk, incident commander for the Chetamon wildfire and Jasper National Park, told CBC News.

It creates a different mosaic for different ecosystems, which allows different plants and animals to survive and thrive, he explained.

"Fire ... is a bit of a stimulus for that process to occur," he said.

There are many vast ecosystems within the Rocky Mountains, Romaniuk said, but wildfires in that environment rarely consume everything.

The burn can renew habitats for various animals, such as grizzly bears, wolves and elk, Parks Canada said in its news release.

The controlled burn may also limit the potential spread of future wildfires, because the scorched vegetation can act as a fuel break, Romaniuk said.

There were more than 40 active wildfires burning in the province as of Monday night, according to Alberta's wildfire dashboard.

Alberta's fire season officially ends Oct. 31.


Katarina Szulc is a reporter for CBC News in Edmonton. She previously worked at CityNews 1130 in Vancouver. You can email story ideas to Katarina.Szulc@cbc.ca.


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