A fast-moving wildfire has threatened the Crowsnest Pass community of Coleman, however, fire crews are holding the blaze as of Thursday. Photo courtesy Robb Powell/Twitter

Fire activity waning in the region

Highway 3 has reopened in the Crowsnest Pass as Alberta firefighters are currently holding a 100-hectare wildfire at bay near Coleman.

Emergency officials issued an evacuation order on Tuesday evening as an out-of-control blaze had sparked up and was rapidly approaching the community pushed by high winds.

Evacuation orders were issued for Willow Drive, McLaren Ridge, Carbondale Trailer Court and MacGillivary Flats, however, as of Thursday, all orders have been rescinded.

Highway 3 had been closed late Tuesday as crews battled the blaze, which also included the use of heavy equipment and helicopters. The highway is now open, but caution must be used when driving in the area.

Anyone displaced by the evacuation orders must obtain a Re-Entry Information Package and Permit from the municipal office before going back to their homes.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, according to Alberta fire officials.

While the fire has been burning just across the BC/Alberta border, there has not been any requests for assistance from the Southeast Fire Centre, said Fire Information Officer Karlie Shaughnessy.

BC has experienced the worst fire season on record with over 894,000 hectares burned, breaking a record that was previously set in 1958.

While the recent rain and snow precipitation has been evident in the East Kootenay region, there are still fires that the BC Wildfire Service are monitoring, specifically out in the Flathead area.

Those fires include Soowa Mountain, estimated at 5,800 hectares, Lodgepole at 1,751 hectares, Elder Creek at 750 hectares, and Kenow Mountain, which is estimated at 15,448 hectares on the BC side of the border, but ripped through Waterton Lakes National Park and into Alberta, growing to over 42,000 hectares in size.

Shaughnessy says crews are not actively fighting those fires anymore.

“We’re just monitoring; we don’t have any personnel on them,” she said. “We’re just waiting until they get significant precipitation or snow before we call them out because fires of these size tend to burn underground, sometimes throughout the winter.”

Shaughenssy says it’s the same for the White River complex fire east of Canal Flats, which is estimated at 26,399 hectares.

Crews are also letting that one burn out as the winter season approaches, however, a road restriction remains in place for the White-East Fork at the 45km to 60km mark.

It’s the tail end of a long fire season that burned thousands of hectares in the BC Interior before a dry spell at the end of August ushered in conditions that contributed to large wildfires near Moyie, St. Mary River and Lake Koocanusa near the Canada U.S. border.

Across the Southeast Fire Centre, there has been 373 wildfires that have burned 90,475 hectares, according to Shaughnessy.

But wildfire activity has been waning and conditions have changed, allowing officials to lift a ban on open burning on Wednesday.

“That was lifted because we were seeing and expecting precipitation and lower temperatures in the majority of our centre,” said Shaughnessy. “So up until that point, we did have high fire danger ratings in many regions of the Southeast Fire Centre, so that’s why we kept our Category 2 and Category 3 bans on for so long this year.”

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