Shell working on gradual shut in of Waterton-area wells amid wildfire

Image: Shell

WATERTON, Alta. — Fire crews halted the spread of a wildfire into the Waterton Lakes National Park townsite on Tuesday, but they were not able to save the visitor's centre or stop the flames from spreading into grasslands outside the southwestern Alberta park.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said 500 people were ordered out of their homes in the Waterton townsite and in parts of nearby Cardston County, the Municipality of Pincher Creek and a First Nations community southwest of Lethbridge.

Remaining residents in Cardston, Pincher Creek and on the Blood reserve were warned they may have to leave on short notice. All three communities declared states of local emergency.

Some 135 firefighters, 14 helicopters and nine air tankers were battling the blaze in the park and more resources were on standby, Notley said.

Meanwhile, Shell Canada said it was keeping a close eye on its sour gas plant operation in the area.

The company said it planned to gradually shut in wells and facilities close to the flames. Staff doing the work were being accompanied by fire suppression teams to ensure safety.

Shell operates three sour gas complexes in the area with combined production of about 225 million cubic feet per day.

© 2017 The Canadian Press