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Extreme fire danger in Jasper National Park

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Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

The fire danger rating reached the “extreme” level – the highest level on the scale – on the last Friday of July. The advisory came in the middle of Jasper’s most recent heatwave brought on by an extended period of hot, dry weather. 

While heavy rains have since drenched much of the national park and most of Alberta as well, it also brought an extensive thunderstorm that produced a substantial number of lightning strikes.

“After last night’s lightning event, wildfire specialists will be out checking lightning strike locations,” Parks Canada stated in an email to the Fitzhugh on Tuesday, advising the public to help out by watching for any signs of fire.

“Fires can burn deep underground and may not be visible during initial smoke patrols. Wildfire staff will continue rechecking these lightning locations, making sure there are no sneaky fires burning.”

Wildfires and other natural hazards are a part of the national park experience, Jasper National Park’s fire danger webpage indicated.

Parks Canada’s wildfire specialists make use of the six weather stations in the park to record and track hourly temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed and wind direction. 

They use this information and national weather reports to determine how easily a fire could start and how difficult it might be to control. The fire danger rating is based off of those calculations.

A team of fire personnel and a helicopter are ready to respond in the event of a wildfire, noted the Jasper National Park Facebook page. Those personnel conduct regular patrols to check for wildfires, smoke and illegal campfires.

“You can reduce the impact of an unfortunate circumstance by being prepared for an emergency situation and informed of the wildfire status,” it stated.

Campfires are allowed only in designated fire pits. Everyone must also dispose of cigarette butts in appropriate receptacles.

If you think that you have spotted a fire or wish to report any illegal campfires or suspicious smoke, please call Parks Canada Dispatch at 780-852-6155. For emergencies, dial 911.

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