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Evacuation order lifted, Waterton Lakes Park open to public

Digital writers

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 8:30 PM - The evacuation order has been lifted and the Waterton Lakes National Park is open for business, according to the latest Parks Canada update issued Wednesday afternoon.

While members of the public are free to access the park, services will be reduced.

"At this time, only the Entrance road, Chief Mountain Highway and the community of Waterton are open," the update reads. "All other roads and areas in the park remain closed for safety reasons. Due to the high intensity of the fire, there are a large number of danger trees, rock falls, and other hazards that remain throughout the park."

The blaze has been classified as held, though it still remains active, covering an area of about 38,100 hectares, with an estimated 30 per cent of the park damaged.

"Fire activity is predominantly on the fire perimeter, and at localized hotspots within the perimeter where pockets of unburned fuels remain," an earlier Parks Canada post highlights. "Fire activity, including smoke and flame may be visible to the public in some areas, especially in the evening when darkness increases visibility of flames."

Firefighters have been aided by a cold front that moved in Monday night, bringing cooler temperatures and some precipitation into the weekend, with snow at higher elevations to the north.

Within the park, some structures have been lost, but the Waterton townsite remains largely intact.

The mandatory evacuation was put into effect on Sept. 8.

According to fire incident commander in Waterton Jed Cochrane, the wildfire was most likely caused by lightning in British Columbia's Flathead Valley in late August, CBC reports.

SOURCE: Parks Canada

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