Jasper National Park Welcomes Back Visitors As Wildfire Still Burns

by Taylor Cunningham

Electricity has finally been restored to Jasper townsite and Whistlers Campground following damage caused by a wildfire. And Parks Canada is officially welcoming visitors back to Jasper National Park.

“Thank you for changing plans and your support of Jasper and the national park during this significant emergency,” the department wrote in a press release.

Temporary closures came after a Sept. 1 lightning strike ignited the Chetamon Wildfire. While the flames are still burning, no residential areas are at risk. However, there are air quality issues in parts of Alberta, British Columbia, and the United States.

Parks Canada said the fire, which is about 12.5 miles north of the townsite, is currently contained. And officials do not expect it to grow past the boundaries of around 23 sq. miles.

“Due to lower temperatures and more rain in the forecast, the wildfire continues to be held, with no further growth expected outside of predetermined boundaries,” the Park said in an update on Sept. 18.

Normal operations resumed on Sept 20 in parts of Jasper National Park. Travelers can book stays at Whistlers Campground until Oct. 10 through the Parks Canada Reservation System. The front country campgrounds are closed until next season.

“This has been a difficult period for many. And we appreciate the adaptability and flexibility of our community residents, visitors to Jasper, and the tourism industry,” the release added.

Firefighters Continue Working on the Contained Wildfire in Jasper National Park

The agency noted that firefighters are continuing to work on extinguishing the remaining flames as people return to Jasper National Park.

There are currently 96 firefighters and 5 helicopters covering the wildfire, and they’ve moved into more challenging areas on the north end. The crews are focusing on hot spots while keeping the containment line running from the Snake Indian River south to the Athabasca River.

The southern end of the fire has workers on Mount Chetamon and in a spot above the Snaring River. Those firefighters are attempting to extend the existing containment line by putting out the main hot spots. There is also personnel patrolling the south perimeter.

“This important work will help reduce the risk of any remaining fire burning underground and popping up again in the winter or spring,” said Parks Canada.

The agency is working to keep the area clear of falling trees and facilitate safe access for ATCO Electric to ensure that power remains on for the Jackson National Park and outlying communities.

Thanks to cooler weather in the coming days, officials believe that the major threat has ended. And once firefighters extinguish the remaining fires, there shouldn’t be a risk of another igniting.