High winds and dry conditions fanned the flames of an 1,100-hectare wildfire burning south of Waterton Lakes National Park, pushing the blaze north over the Canada-U.S. border.
“The wildfire exhibited extreme fire behaviour and burned most of the basin on the southwest facing slope of Mount Richards and the south and east facing slopes of Mount Alderson,” said Parks Canada spokesman John Stoesser in a statement.
“The wildfire also travelled east 500 metres along the Boundary Valley, stopping at an avalanche path. Two spot fires are burning beyond the east perimeter of the fire in the valley.”
A helicopter was used to dump water on the east perimeter of the fire Friday afternoon in an effort to control the spread.
Parks Canada has two helicopters, an initial attack crew — which can range from three to six firefighters — and an incident management team working on the fire while there are 19 U.S. firefighters working at Boundary Bay Backcountry Campground.
Parks Canada and U.S. fire managers are coordinating their efforts.
As a result of the fire activity, Parks Canada has closed the Bertha Lake Trail and Lakeshore Trail in Waterton Lakes National Park.
The Bertha Lake and Bertha Bay backcountry campgrounds have also been closed.
Officials worry high winds and cool temperatures forecast for Saturday could lead to continued fire activity and smoke and they are hoping to hold the fire at the avalanche path.
They are also planning to create a GPS perimeter of the wildfire.
Waterton was devastated by a wildfire a year ago which consumed more than 190-square kilometres within the park and led to a two-week mandatory evacuation.
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