Fire crews battle blaze at Point Pelee National Park

Nearby residents drove to Point Pelee National Park, just outside Leamington, Ont., and got as close as they could, watching as flames danced along the dark and distant horizon and a wall of smoke billowed into the sky.

Massive fire isolated in the marsh area of the park and allowed to burn

Meg Roberts reports from the Point Pelee fire 0:30

Officials kept Canada's southern-most national park under complete lockdown Wednesday night as firefighters carefully managed a wildfire that slowly burned through an expansive area of marshland.

Nearby residents drove to Point Pelee National Park, just outside Leamington, Ont., and got as close as they could, watching as flames danced along the dark and distant horizon and a wall of smoke billowed into the sky.

Brook Epp drove from her house in Ruthven to catch a glimpse of the fire that was first reported around 7:45 p.m. She worried about how much damage the fire might cause. 

"It's very sad to see natural habitat going up in flames," she said, standing in thick brush just off Mersea Road, which runs along the northern boundary of the park.

Her friend, who lives in Kingsville, located across the bay on the edge of Lake Erie, texted a photo of the flames that were visible all the way from her home.

A fire slowly burns through the marshland at Point Pelee National Park near Leamington, Ont. on Wednesday night. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Fire crews protected the boardwalk, which snakes through the normally picturesque marshland, but there wasn't much else they needed to do.

Parks Canada policies allow natural fires like this one to continue burning. 

"Anything that's natural like that, it's just part of the ecosystem, so that's why it's burned off," said Leamington fire Chief Chuck Parsons.

Leamington firefighters are battling a massive fire at Point Pelee National Park. (Leamington Fire)
A blaze burns at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ont. (Alan Antoniuk)

Fire crews were planning to leave the park just after midnight Thursday morning as Parks Canada crews planned to take over and monitor the fire.

Parson said the size of the fire should ebb and flow throughout the morning, depending on weather conditions, but he expects it will be kept well under control.

Fire at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ont. (Alan Antoniuk)
Fire at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ont. ( Alan Antoniuk)