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This article was published 10/10/2011 (2954 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON — Cool weather finally helped firefighters contain a fire in the southeast corner of Riding Mountain National Park near Muskrat Creek that has burned approximately 2,000 hectares of land.
"We are cautiously optimistic this is the beginning of the end of the fire," said Cate Watrous, a park spokeswoman. "Mother Nature is going to put this fire out one way or another, unless we have another weather anomaly like we did last week, where we got high temperatures and high winds."
Since firefighters have successfully contained the fire, park officials plan to let the fire feed on itself and burn out naturally. Fire crews will be standing by to prevent it from spreading. The fire was started as a controlled burn but high winds caused it to burn past its boundaries.
"It's so late in the season, the chances are that either rain or snow will put this one out for us. ... That's a smart strategy because what that does is it burns up all of the fuel that was in the area and that decreases the risk of future fires. It's actually beneficial to the landscape if we let it burn," said Watrous.
As park officials determined there is no threat to property or people at this point, the evacuation notices that were handed out to 14 area residents closest to the fire, in the RM of Clanwilliam, have been lifted.
On�àSunday, fire crews focused on putting out a small area of the fire west of Rolling�àRiver Road, monitoring the southern portion of the fire and "strengthening the fireguard on the western flank" of the fire.
In all, five Parks Canada firefighting crews remain in place to battle the blaze and a third Parks Canada helicopter has been added to douse the fire.
"The wildfire started directly east of Erickson, and the RM�àof Clanwilliam is affected," said Watrous. "The fire line is 14 kilometres long, but it has settled down and is not spreading."
The winds shifted to the northwest on Saturday, which was good for supressing the fire. However, communities such as Kelwood, Riding Mountain and Birnie on the east side of the park were more likely to take on the drifting clouds of smoke as a result. Watrous said the smoke would die down.
Watrous said conditions were ripe for the fire to spread. There was a lot of fuel for it because there hasn't been any fires in the area because of policies of fire supression for the past 70 years.
"The fuel loading and weather created the perfect storm," said Watrous.
Highway 19 and Rolling River Road will reopen today. A fire ban that was put in place because of dry conditions has been lifted. All trails east of Highway 10 will remain closed until dangerous trees can be removed and the trails assesed for safety.
— Brandon Sun