BANFF – A lighting strike that hit Mount Rundle in Banff National Park on Saturday evening (Aug. 11) and started a wildfire is continuing to smoke, despite efforts to put it out.
Banff National Park fire management officer Erin Tassell said Wednesday (Aug. 15) the fire was initially reported to dispatch and an initial attack crew responded by helicopter and using buckets put water on it until there was no more activity.
“As it warmed up again on Monday and Tuesday, we started to see smoke was visible and again actioned it with helicopter buckets,” Tassell said. “This morning we will heli-sling in an initial attack crew to try and dig the fire out and extinguish it today.”
She confirmed there is only one small spot-fire on Rundle and it has not grown in size since it was discovered.
Tassell explained that dry and warm conditions have contributed the fire’s persistence, and each time crews have put water on it, the fire ends up digging itself into the ground.
Banff National Park’s field unit maintains the ability to respond with an initial attack crew to any new starts.
“With the conditions we are seeing and the regional fire situation it is important to maintain readiness,” she said.
Meanwhile, smoke from fires west of the Bow Valley has filled the air, resulting in an air quality index rating of eight, considered high risk, for the Calgary region.
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the entire area, including Kananaskis and the MD of Bighorn.
Fire bans for outdoor and campsite fires remain in place for Banff National Park, the Calgary Forest District, and the towns of Canmore and Banff.