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Fire closes access to Whiteswan park

An out-of-control wildfire near Canal Flats has more than doubled in size in 24 hours, prompting the closure of Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park and access roads.

The Whitetail Brook fire near Canal Flats was caused by lightning and detected on Sunday, July 27. On Tuesday, it was 150 hectares, but by Wednesday lunchtime it had grown to an estimated 400 hectares in size. It's not at all contained, according to the Wildfire Management Branch.

What's more, a lightning storm that moved through the area on Tuesday, July 29 sparked another six small fires around Whiteswan, said Fanny Bernard, fire information officer at Southeast Fire Centre.

"Aside from the fire at Whitetail Brook, there was six new small fires since (Tuesday's) lightning storm," said Bernard.

As a result, Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park has been closed, she went on.

"That has prompted the Wildfire Management Branch in communication with B.C. Parks to close down access to Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, including Lussier Hot Springs until further notice.

"BC Parks staff is currently informing campers in the area that they need to leave the area."

Forestry roads in the area have also been closed. Whiteswan Forest Service Road is closed from the highway; White Rock Forest Service Road is closed; and Kootenay Forest Service Road is closed from Canal Flats to the 34-kilometre mark. The closures mean access to Top of the World Provincial Park is also cut off.

There are no structures threatened by any of the fires.

The Whitetail Brook fire has grown to the northeast, rather than the south or the west where communities and infrastructure is located. It is being fought by 50 firefighters, eight pieces of heavy equipment, three water tenders, three medium helicopters and one light helicopter.

"We are asking the public to continue to be extra careful when they are out with campfires or when they are in the backcountry so that our resources are available to respond to these naturally occurring wildfires," said Bernard.

If you see any suspected wildfire or unattended campfire, phone 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellphones.

"Even if you suspect that somebody else must have called in smoke, do it anyway," she continued. "The public reports a third of our wildfires."

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