Numa Creek fire still contained

Fire crews were busy in Kootenay National Park last week, extinguishing a small wildfire on Mt. Kindersley.

Fire crews were busy in Kootenay National Park last week, extinguishing a small wildfire on Mt. Kindersley.

The fire was about a half hectare in size and was put out completely on Thursday, August 29th. There have been no major changes to the Numa Creek wildfire, which is still about 450 hectares, in part due to some rain and cooler temperatures last week.

The fire has been burning for five weeks and is contained within the Numa Creek drainage. It jumped in size from 100 hectares to 400 hectares almost two weeks ago, creating a huge column of smoke. Fire management crews are monitoring the fire and no-stopping zones have been posted along Highway 93. Park authorities are asking drivers to obey the speed limit (since the smoke may affect visibility) and heed the no-stopping zones.

Park authorities occasionally manage fires rather than suppress them at all costs, in part because fire plays an important ecological role in many mountain parks.

It’s particularly beneficial to recovery of white bark pine, an endangered tree species found in the Numa Creek drainage.

Hiking most of the renowned 55-kilometre-long Rockwall trail is still impossible at this time. The entire Numa Creek drainage is off-limits, including Numa Creek campground, the adjoining sections of the Rockwall trail and the Numa Creek trail, which connects Highway 93 to the Rockwall.

The section of the Rockwall trail from Helmet Creek to Tumbling Creek has now also been closed due to the fire. Tumbling Creek trail, another trail connecting Highway 93 to the Rockwall trail, has been closed since 2012 because of a bridge washout. This means that at present the only way for hikers to access the Rockwall from Highway 93 is to do an out-and-back hike on the Floe Lake trail (which goes to the Rockwall’s far south end), but Parks Canada is cautioning visitors about smoke in the Floe Lake area.

The fire danger level in Parks Canada’s Lake Louise-Yoho-Kootenay field unit remains moderate. Park authorities are asking visitors to keep campfires in designated areas and ensure any fires are fully extinguished before leaving their site. They are also advising people with smoke sensitivity to stay away from the area.