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Jasper switches back to transmission power

A view of the north fireguard on a steep slope. Firefighters are now getting into more difficult terrain as the north and south perimeters of the Chetamon Wildfire are seeing little fire growth. | Parks Canada photo

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter |

And then there was light. Two weeks into the Chetamon Wildfire, Jasper’s Mayor Richard Ireland had some welcome news during an announcement on Wednesday.

“We are happy to report that ATCO was successful in switching Jasper from the temporary generator system back to the transmission line,” Ireland said.

“Jasper now has sufficient, stable and reliable power. We are able and eager to safely welcome visitors back to the community.”

This means that the town is effectively able to return to normal.

“Jasper is open for business,” said James Jackson, president and CEO of Tourism Jasper.

Jackson also encouraged everyone to pick up their plans to visit Jasper soon, albeit with the understanding that their patience will be appreciated as the business community will still need to scale their operations back up.

“There’s still lots of summer left to enjoy,” he said, adding his thanks to trade partners around the world. “They literally rerouted trains, planes and automobiles all over the world to accommodate the situation. We really, really appreciate it.”

The wildfire continues to burn at approximately 6,000 hectares in size, but looking beyond that, there has been excellent progress. Fire growth has been limited on both the critical north and south ends of the fire with no further spread towards communities in either direction, said Landon Shepherd, deputy incident commander for the Chetamon Wildfire with Parks Canada.

“We haven’t had any further threat (to critical infrastructure) that we haven’t been able to manage or mitigate,” he said.

“We don’t foresee in any of the forecasting that we’ve done based on the anticipated weather that we have any further imminent concerns at all for the community at this time or the communities of the west Yellowhead County outside the park boundary.”

Parks Canada currently has 96 firefighting personnel and five helicopters dedicated to containing the Chetamon wildfire. Many areas on lower slopes have been contained, and there is still much smoldering and creeping surface fire around the perimeter. Firefighters are making their way around that and up into more difficult-to-access terrain.

Those crews are working to extinguish several hot spots and reinforcing the containment line from the Snake Indian River south to the Athabasca River.

On the south end, they are working in steeper areas on Mount Chetamon and a ridge above the Snaring River to extend an existing containment line and to extinguish hot spots. Firefighters are also patrolling the south perimeter and completing a fireguard north of the Jasper Transfer Station.

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