Octopus fire growing
By: Cathy Ellis
| Posted: Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 06:00 am
A wildfire in Kootenay National Park and Assinboine Provincial Park continues to grow, doubling in size over the past week.
The lightning-sparked Octopus Mountain blaze has grown to 676 hectares, making it the biggest fire in Kootenay National Park since 2006 when a wildfire burned about 17,000 hectares.
Officials say the fire is being directly managed between Parks Canada, B.C. Parks and B.C. wildfire management branch.
“We’re still monitoring it with all the contingencies in place; it’s a really good spot with a lot of natural features like rock that will stop it from drifting too far,” said Dani McIntosh, a Parks Canada fire communications officer.
“We have resources in place in case anything does change.”
The various government agencies are letting the wildfire burn in the hope of achieving environmental goals.
“By letting it play out on the landscape it’s actually meeting a lot of ecological objectives set out by Parks Canada,” McIntosh said.
“Habitat improvement for wildlife and recreating a mosaic on the landscape to prevent larger wildfire events in the future are two of the big ones.”
The fire, which was not reported until Aug. 12 but is believed to have been sparked by lightning a week earlier, burned upslope along the Lachine Creek drainage in Kootenay before crossing into Assiniboine Provincial Park.
Smoke has continued to come and go in the Bow Valley, in part from the Octopus Mountain fire, but also from fires in the northwestern United States and southeastern B.C.
“It’s been a bit smoky, but there are no health concerns at this point,” McIntosh said.
The Octopus Mountain fire is being used to study wildfire behaviour, including how fire moves and how species burn.
“What they are doing is using this fire as a good opportunity to conduct research on fuel types – the type of tree species that are burning right now,” McIntosh said. “That’s a fuel type we don’t know a lot about right now
A wildfire started in Yoho National Park on Sunday (Aug. 26), but was contained quickly and declared extinguished. Another lightning-sparked fire is burning in Glacier National Park, visible from the Trans-Canada Highway.