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Jasper National Park

Excelsior Creek Wildfire

Updates

July 24, 2015
July 21, 2015

July 20, 2015
July 18, 2015
July 16, 2015
July 15, 2015
July 14, 2015
July 13, 2015
July 12, 2015

July 11, 2015

July 10, 2015
July 9, 2015

Important Information


July 24, 2015

Excelsior Wildfire Update  Photo taken on July 22, 2015 
© Parks Canada / J. McCormick
Though the fire area has received between 55-65mm of rain between July 11 and July 22, deep, compact organic layers of soil remain dry. The fire burned very deep and, in some spots, continues to burn in those deeper layers. Crews continue to search for and extinguish hot spots around the perimeter of the fire. The fire is considered under control.

There are 40 fireline personnel working on the ground, aided by three helicopters. A new National Incident Management Team is managing the overall operation. A big thanks goes to the 72 Jasper National Park staff members who supported the suppression of the wildfire in a variety of capacities.

The Maligne Road to Maligne Lake opened to happy motorists and cyclists early in the afternoon of July 22. The Jacques Lake Trail, Maligne Lake area hikes, backcountry trails and campgrounds are open. Medicine Lake, the Watchtower Trail, and the Excelsior Wildfire area remain closed.

A 40 km/hr No Stop Zone through the burn area and along Medicine Lake is in place.



July 21, 2015

Parks Canada is pleased to announce that safety measures to allow for a safe reopening of the Maligne Road will be complete tomorrow morning and the road will re-open to motorists and cyclist. A No Stop Zone through the burn area and along Medicine Lake will be in place with a speed limit of 40km/hr while potential hazards remain. Effective as of 1:00 p.m. on July 22 the Skyline Trail and Maligne Lake day hikes and backcountry campgrounds will re-open. A No Stop Zone through the burn area and along Medicine Lake will be in place with a speed limit of 40km/hr while potential hazards remain.

A revised area closure effective as of 1:00 p.m. on July 22 will allow for the re-opening of the Skyline Trail and Maligne Lake day hikes and backcountry campgrounds. Medicine Lake, the Watchtower Trail, and the Excelsior Wildfire area remain closed.

Crews continue to search for and extinguish hot spots around the perimeter of the fire. The fire is under control.

July 20 Wildfires 
Fire 8 - Reported at approximately 3:20 pm, Fire 8 was located along the Canadian National Railway tracks, across the valley from Disaster Point on Highway 16. The Jasper National Park Initial Attack Crew quickly extinguished the fire while still small.

Saturday Night Lake Fire - A big thank you goes out to the Jasper Tramway staff who reported this wildfire, located approximately one km southeast of Saturday Night Lake. Today, the Lake Louise-Kootenay-Yoho Initial Attack Crew works to fully extinguish the fire. They expect to be complete this afternoon. The fire was started by yesterday’s lightning storm.

Next Update
As conditions change.

Excelsior Wildfire  A No Stop Zone through the burn area and along Medicine Lake will be in place.
© Parks Canada / R. Gruys

July 20, 2015

The Excelsior Wildfire is now considered under control. This means that wildfire has received sufficient suppression action to ensure no further spread. Crews continue to search for and extinguish hot spots around the perimeter, some of which are burning deep underground. The fire team continues to scan the fire’s perimeter daily using an infrared scanner to help locate remaining hot spots.

Closures
The Maligne Road beyond Maligne Canyon Wilderness Hostel remains closed. Crews completed hazard trees removal in the fire area along the road yesterday, and continue to action nearby hot spots. Fireline personnel and a contractor began rock scaling on the burned, less stable slopes above the road today. Parks Canada is also working with a contract engineer to assess slope stability and ensure road safety. Barring unexpected circumstances, the Maligne Road is expected to open this weekend, with a no stop zone through the burn area and along Medicine Lake.

Next Update
As conditions change.

Aerial View of Medicine Slabs and North End of Medicine Lake , July 19, 2015  Aerial View of Medicine Slabs and North End of Medicine Lake , July 19, 2015
© Parks Canada / R. Gruys

July 18, 2015

The Excelsior wildfire area received significant rain over the past few days, and crews are making good progress toward building a perimeter around this wildfire to fully contain it. The rain has not extinguished the fire, but fire specialists feel confident that they will contain the fire before any long term weather changes take place. Extremely dry forest conditions allowed fire to burn deep into the ground, increasing the difficulty of extinguishment. There are now 80 fireline personnel working on the ground, along with a high volume sprinkler system and six helicopters.

There is presently little to no smoke in the Athabasca Valley. Smoke conditions may change with warmer, dryer weather.

The Maligne Road up to and including the Maligne Hostel is open. The upper Maligne Valley remains closed. Parks Canada is working hard to complete the necessary work that will allow for the safe re-opening to Maligne Lake and are optimistic that it will re-open soon. Work includes a crew removing hazardous trees that resulted from extreme fire behavior, and slope stabilization measures to keep motorists safe from falling rocks and debris. The tree falling is being carried out by a highly experienced 10-person contract crew from British Columbia. Incident Commander, Rick Kubian, holds this crew in high regard, “I worked with this crew in Wood Buffalo and they are excellent at this kind of work”. 

The Fire Ban in Jasper National Park has been lifted. It is now permitted to light and maintain fires in designated fire pits.

Excelsior Wildfire, July 18, 2015  July 17, 2015 © Parks Canada / D. Smith

July 16, 2015

3pm
Cooler damper weather continues to aid crews working toward containing this wildfire. The rain has not extinguished the fire, but has minimized spread and is holding the size to just under 1000 hectares. Without extinguishment completely around perimeter, the fire is still considered out of control. Extremely dry forest conditions allowed fire to burn deep into the ground, increasing the difficulty of extinguishment. Currently, there is no threat to people or facilities from this wildfire.

There are 70 fireline personnel working hard towards containing this fire, along with a high volume sprinkler system and six helicopters. More crews are on their way to join the effort in the near future.  

Closures
As of 9:00 AM this morning, the areas of the Maligne Valley up to and including the Maligne Hostel have re-opened. Maligne Canyon facilities, Maligne Hostel and all trails below the hostel are now open for use.

The upper Maligne Valley remains closed. One of Parks Canada’s top priorities is to complete the necessary work that will allow for a safe re-opening of the rest of the Maligne Road. This includes continued work to contain the fire, hazard tree removal and other road safety measures associated with slope stabilization.

All other front country campgrounds, day use areas and facilities in Jasper National Park, with the exception of the upper Maligne Valley, are open.

The Fire Ban in Jasper National Park, has been lifted. Rain and cooler temperatures have decreased fire danger. It is now permitted to light and maintain fires in designated fire pits.

Excelsior Wildfire  Recently burned slope along the Maligne Road, July 13, 2015
© Parks Canada / R. Gruys

July 15, 2015

14:30
Fire crews aided by high volume sprinkler systems and helicopters bucketing continue to make progress on containing priority areas of the fire. Forecasted favourable weather through the end of the week should advance ground efforts. There is no threat to people or facilities from this wildfire at this time. Extremely dry forest conditions allowed fire to burn deep into the ground, increasing the difficulty of extinguishment. The fire is still considered out of control.

July 16: Fire specialists and park managers have determined that a portion of the Maligne Valley will be safe to re-open as of 9:00AM on July 16. Maligne Canyon facilities, Maligne Hostel and all trails below the hostel will reopen for use at that time.

For backcountry closures, please check the Trail Conditions Report on the Jasper NP webpage for details.

Parks Canada’s first priority is to ensure the safety of the public and fire personnel, and protect infrastructure. We are working hard to minimize the fire’s impact to visitors.

Smoke
Residents and visitors may noticed some localized smoke, especially in the mornings. Wildfire activity in Western Canada may produce a smoke haze in the area.

Excelsior Wildfire  Bird’s-eye view of the Excelsior Wildfire in the Maligne Valley.
© Parks Canada / R. Gruys

July 14, 2015

16:30
Yesterday, fire crews made progress toward containing the northern end of the fire (closest to the Athabasca Valley). Today, crews and equipment continue to work on the ground, supported by helicopters bucketing water, to contain priority areas. Fire specialists expect favourable weather through the end of the week to advance ground efforts. The fire is still considered out of control and is being actioned in a prioritized fashion. A National Incident Management Team is coordinating the work of approximately 70 fire line personnel, 6 helicopters, high volume sprinklers and other equipment to contain this fire.

Parks Canada is a leader in fire management. Our first priority is to ensure the safety of the public and fire personnel, and protect infrastructure for the duration of the Excelsior Wildfire. We are working hard to minimize the fire’s impact to visitors, and appreciate your patience and understanding while we work to manage this fire.

Air quality has improved thanks to recent weather conditions. There is still significant wildfire activity in Western Canada and changing weather patterns may result in localized smoke. Please take this into consideration, especially if you have any existing respiratory concerns.

Excelsior Wildfire  Fire crew member from the Province of Ontario, Jasper National Park. July 13, 2015. 
© Parks Canada / R.Gruys 

July 13, 2015

16:30

Excelsior Wildfire July 2015  Excelsior Wildfire, July 12, 2015 
© Parks Canada / R. Gruys

Crews and equipment continue working to extinguish priority areas of the Excelsior Wildfire. Additional resources will arrive today and tomorrow to support fire suppression activities.

Parks Canada recognizes that the Maligne Valley is an important area to visitors and stakeholders, and is working hard to minimize impacts. In the meantime, many other Jasper adventures await.

To ensure public safety, the Maligne Road is closed after 6th Bridge. The 6th Bridge Day Use Area remains open as well as Lakes Edith and Annette; Trail 7 is open from the junction with trail 7g to Old Fort Point as well as Wabasso Trail to the lake and Valley of the Five Lakes Trails.

For wildfire information:

  • call the Wildfire Info Phone line at 780-852-3311
  • visit the Wildfire Information Booth at the Heritage Firehall, behind the Information Centre, open 9am to 5pm daily and 7pm to 9pm, Wed - Sun. 
  • follow the Jasper National Park Facebook page and Twitter feed.

July 12, 2015

21:00
The fire team in Jasper National Park continued working on suppression of the Excelsior Wildfire today. Cooler weather enabled crews and equipment to get out on the ground for the first time. Fire specialists hope for continued favorable weather conditions over the next few days to allow for further suppression operations on the ground.

Parks Canada appreciates your patience and understanding as we work to contain the fire and minimize impact to park visitors and stakeholders.

While public safety is Parks Canada’s first priority, we are also committed to maintaining ecological integrity. Fire is an essential natural process that has many ecological benefits. The Mountain National Parks have many fire-adapted landscapes that need fire to remain healthy. Over time, periodic fires create a vegetation mosaic of different stand ages and types. This provides a rich variety of habitats that also supports many species of insects, mammals and birds. This is biodiversity — it indicates a thriving ecosystem that is likely to persist in the future. So fire not only renews and recycles, but rearranges vegetation in a cycle of change.

Excelsior Wildfire. June 12, 2015  July 12, 2015 © Parks Canada / M. Wesbrook



13:30
A little more rain and cooler temperatures are good news for the fire team in Jasper. These favourable weather conditions will allow fire suppression activities to continue today with heli-bucketing and ground crews working to extinguish priority areas of the Excelsior Wildfire.

The Parks Canada team in Jasper would like to thank the Parks Canada Incident Command Team members from across the country, fire crews from other national parks and a crew from the Province of Ontario, ho have joined the efforts to suppress this wildfire.

A big thanks to the Parks Canada team in Jasper, Jasper National Park staff, the RCMP, the Municipality of Jasper, Jasper businesses and residents who have helped with the fire and keeping the rest of Jasper National Park operating as usual in this busy summer season.

Forest conditions remain dry and with recent lightning activity, Parks Canada’s Initial Attack crew continue to monitor all areas of Jasper National Park for any smoke or fire activity. Air quality is improving thanks to recent weather conditions and forecasted weather should mean reduced levels of smoke over the next few days. There is however still the potential for localized smoke. Please take this into consideration when planning your trip, especially if you have any existing respiratory concerns.

Fire crew briefing, July 11, 2015  Fire crew briefing, July 11, 2015 © Parks Canada


July 11, 2015

20:30

Today, the Parks Canada Fire Crew mapped the Excelsior Wildfire and determined the size to be approximately 1000 hectares. Until now, due to smoke and extreme fire behaviour, visibility was too poor for mapping and the fire was estimated at 5000 hectares. It is not uncommon for estimates to be higher as they are based on straight lines and geographical features.

Based on recent precipitation, the weather forecast and fire suppression actions, fire specialists do not anticipate significant fire growth over the next few days.

Map of Excelsior Wildfire

13:00 
Rain overnight in Jasper helped slow the fire and will now provide an opportunity for the Parks Canada Fire Team to attack the fire directly. The fire is holding at an estimated 5000 hectares and little growth is expected in the next few days. The rain and forecast weather will reduce fire behaviour potential and allow fire crews to safely work on priority areas of the fire.

All front country campgrounds, day use areas and facilities in Jasper National Park, with the exception of the Maligne Valley, are open and accessible, including most day hikes. To ensure public safety, the Maligne Valley remains closed until further notice. We are working hard to contain the fire and minimize impact to park visitors and stakeholders. Crews are completing precautionary facility protection at Maligne Lake, Maligne Teahouse, Maligne Hostel and Shangri-la. No facilities are at risk at this time.

Local and regional wildfires as well as varying weather conditions have resulted in localized smoke. Please take this into consideration when planning your trip, especially if you have any existing respiratory concerns. We take people’s health concerns very seriously and recognize that smoke affects people in varying degrees.

  • Check for fire updates when planning your visit or call 780-852-3311 for Jasper wildfire information.
  • If you are concerned about potential health impacts from smoke, contact your physician or health care professional for advice (Seton Health Care Centre in Jasper).

July 10, 2015 

21:30
Favourable weather conditions have slowed the Excelsior Wildfire considerably. The fire is holding at approximately 5000 hectares, which means there was very little growth today. Fire behaviour is, however, highly dependent on weather conditions and the fire could continue to grow if conditions change.

Varying weather and fire behaviour may result in localized smoke. Please take this into consideration when planning your trip, especially if you have any existing respiratory concerns. We take people’s health concerns very seriously and recognize that smoke affects people in varying degrees. If you are concerned about potential health impacts from smoke, contact your physician or health care professional for advice (Seton Health Care Centre in Jasper).

All front country campgrounds, day use areas and facilities in Jasper National Park, with the exception of the Maligne Valley, are open and accessible, including most day hikes.

18:00
A fire ban is in effect for the Mountain National Parks. With Fire Danger rated Extreme and the current wildfire situation in Western Canada, including the Excelsior Wildlfire, Parks Canada has implemented the ban as a precautionary measure. Lighting or maintaining fires in Jasper is now strictly prohibited effective July 9th, 2015. Gas or propane stoves are permitted during the fire ban but the use of charcoal briquettes is prohibited. The fire ban will be lifted as soon as conditions permit.

15:00
Park Canada’s Fire Team in Jasper National Park continues to work toward extinguishing a wildfire in the Maligne Valley. The fire is estimated at approximately 5000 hectares. While the rest of the park is open, the Maligne Road remains closed as well as associated backcountry trails and campgrounds. Maligne Road and area trails are closed but the rest of the park remains open! Parks Canada, RCMP and Jasper Community Outreach services worked together to successfully evacuate all visitors in the Maligne Valley. Great work everyone!

11:00
There are no people or facilities at threat or at risk. No risk to the community at this point, but visitors will notice smoke in the valley. 

Be sure to check www.511.alberta.ca regularly for road updates!

July 9, 2015

18:00
As Fire Danger is Extreme and Jasper’s Fire Team is concentrating resources on the Excelsior Wildfire, a fire ban is in effect for all of Jasper National Park. Lighting or maintaining fires in the park is now strictly prohibited effective July 9th, 2015. Please report all fires to Jasper dispatch 1-780-852-3100.

19:45
Reported at 3:30 this afternoon, the fire is approximately 15 km south of the town of Jasper and is currently moving South in the Maligne Valley, away from the townsite. Lightning is currently the suspected cause of the fire. The fire has likely been smouldering underground since the strike, and the recent hot, dry conditions brought it to life.

16:15
Parks Canada is currently responding to a Wildfire in the Maligne Valley area North of Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park. For public safety, Maligne Lake road is now closed and visitors in the Maligne Valley are being evacuated. RCMP and Parks Canada are flagging the traffic on Highway 16 and Maligne Lake Road intersection, expect delays. We thank you in advance for your patience. 

Excelsior Wildfire  July 9, 2015 © Parks Canada