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Firefighters bring MD of Bighorn wildfire under control

“The wind is going to contribute to the fire behaviour but we’ve got it in hand right now.”

MD OF BIGHORN – Wildland firefighters have successfully brought a wildfire burning east of Banff National Park under control. 

As of about 4 p.m. on Friday (May 31), the six-hectare wildfire near the Ghost River in the MD of Bighorn was classified as under control. It was first detected by Alberta Wildfire lookout observers around 5 a.m. Thursday (May 30) and initially registered as out of control at four hectares.

Alberta Wildfire provincial information officer Melissa Story said the agency is not anticipating any further fire growth.

“The wind is going to contribute to the fire behaviour but we’ve got it in hand right now,” she said.

Alberta Wildfire is responding to the blaze with 20 wildland firefighters and helicopter support. There is also a water truck on site to support suppression. 

“Residents and visitors may see smoke in the area along the Ghost River,” states a news release from the MD of Bighorn, noting Bighorn Emergency Services was also initially on scene for assistance.

The cause of the wildfire is under investigation and there is no threat to nearby communities or infrastructure.

An Alberta Wildfire update for the Calgary Forest Area (CFA) noted the burn area is primarily comprised of fine fuels such as slash and cured grass.

The CFA has recorded 38 fires, burning a total of 11.57 hectares since Jan. 1. All but one have been extinguished. 

Overall wildfire danger in the CFA – extending from as far south as west of Pincher Creek up to east of the Banff National Park boundary – is moderate, with some areas having high wildfire risk.

“A break in precipitation along with some warmer, windy days has helped to drive up the overall wildfire danger,” states an Alberta Wildfire update. “Although the forecast is calling for the possibility of some light precipitation in the short term, conditions look mostly stable through the coming week which will lead to a continual climb in the wildfire danger.”

As of May 31 at 4:30 p.m., there were 29 active wildfires in the province. Twenty-six are listed as under control and three are being held. Alberta Wildfire is also assisting in six mutual aid wildfires outside of its Forest Protection Area.

There have been 392 wildfires in the province since the start of the year, burning a total of 27,986 hectares.

Provincial officials warned earlier this week that the number of lightning-caused wildfire starts is rising. Last week, there was one lightning-caused wildfire. As of May 30, there were six.

“As lightning becomes more prevalent during the wildfire season, it’s more important than ever that we do everything we can to prevent human-caused wildfires,” said Todd Loewen, minister of Forestry and Parks in a recent provincial wildfire update. “These preventable wildfires place unnecessary strain on resources and personnel who are already responding to multiple fires throughout the province.”

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.

About the Author: Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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