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Wildfire crews being rotated out

Crews are focusing on extinguishing hot spots along the Chetamon wildfire’s perimeter. Cooler weather is allowing them to make progress. | Parks Canada photo

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter |

As the Chetamon Wildfire passes its third week, Parks Canada has rotated out many of the firefighting personnel who were on active duty without rest since it began.

They have recently been replaced with new crews who are now able to get into previously inaccessible terrain at higher levels.

A new incident management team came on board over the weekend as well.

“As the crews were timing out, we started pulling some in. The numbers are going to continue to fluctuate,” said Jon Large, incident commander.

“They’ll stabilize around the end of the week, and then as we go for the next couple days and weeks, we’ll start releasing resources as they have a timeout or they’re not needed on the fire anymore.”

Last week, Jasper was put back on the provincial electrical grid after experiencing rolling outages due to the wildfire impacting the transmission line.

The wildfire was later classified as being held.

There are now 120 firefighting personnel working the fire as of Tuesday, an increase from 97 crew members on Monday.

The fire activity has slowed considerably due to fire suppression and prevention efforts, with the weather bringing in the assist for the effort. Precipitation and cooler weather have contributed greatly to the firefighter’s progress on bringing the wildfire under control.

The Chetamon wildfire is still being held at approximately 6,000 hectares and is not expected to grow past those boundaries.

The focus of operations is now on extinguishing hot spots along the perimeter of the wildfire. This will help to reduce the risk of any fire that remains burning underground, which could potentially pop up again over the winter or into the spring.

There is still no risk to any communities.

Parks Canada’s daily update schedule is also reflecting this shift. It will now come every second day.

In Tuesday’s update, it reiterated that flying drones in Jasper National Park is illegal and dangerous. This activity endangers the lives and well-being of people and wildlife. Drones have already reportedly interfered with helicopter bucketing over the wildfire.

Four people have now been charged in drone-related incidents. Each faces a maximum of $25,000 as well.

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