An out of control wildfire caused by lightning in Kootenay National Park, in British Columbia near the Alberta border, continues to grow.
The blaze, which started burning in the Mitchell Ridge area of the park on Wednesday — approximately two kilometres east of the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint and seven kilometres north of Nipika Mountain Resort — is now estimated at 190 hectares in size as of 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Parks Canada said in a Facebook post.
"The primary concern continues to be how early we're seeing this type of fire behaviour in these areas," Charlie McLellan, fire and vegetation specialist for Parks Canada in Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay, told CBC in an interview Saturday.
"It's certainly abnormal, normally we don't have lightning-ignited fires or see this type of fire growth until the months of July and August."
According to Parks Canada, the growth was primarily seen at the northern flank where it is burning in a forest stand with higher levels of fuel loading.
The agency said 23 firefighters and 3 helicopters are focusing on reinforcing containment on the southwest flank and minimizing growth into areas of blowdown that are more challenging to suppress.
Fire behaviour is expected to ease by early this week with the forecasted precipitation and a return to lower seasonal temperatures, Parks Canada said.
Cooler temperatures and precipitation are forecasted for Monday which could help fire suppression activities.
The fire comes as Alberta's wildfire crisis drags on, and as the return of hot weather threatens to escalate the danger in communities under threat.
Intense wildfires continue to burn across the province, forcing thousands of Albertans from their homes and cloaking communities both near and far from the flames with smoke.
According to Alberta Wildfire's online dashboard, as of 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, 84 wildfires were burning inside Alberta's forest protection zones and 22 are classified as out of control.