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A Canadian national park ablaze

Waterton Fire: A ravaged national park

In September 2017 Waterton Lakes National Park was ravaged by the Kenow Wildfire. Sarah Lawrynuik followed the fire's progress for days and was up all night with the people of southern Alberta as they were evacuated from their homes. 

SEPT. 8-10, 2017: WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK IS EVACUATED, FIRE SPREADS

Reporters camp out at the entrance of Waterton Lakes National Park for updates from Parks Canada officials. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

Reporters camp out at the entrance of Waterton Lakes National Park for updates from Parks Canada officials. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

SEPT. 11-12, 2017: THE KENOW FIRE EXPANDS EXPONENTIALLY AND BLAZES THROUGH THE PARK

Vroom, vroom! #watertonfire

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SEPT. 14, 2017: THE RISK DISSIPATES, CALGARY FIRST RESPONDERS RETURN HOME

Calgary firefighters 'showered with embers' fought to save historic Prince of Wales Hotel from wildfire

Photo courtesy of the Calgary Fire Department

Photo courtesy of the Calgary Fire Department

Amid the wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park, Calgary firefighters worked to protect the buildings in the townsite nestled in the mountains of the park. 

With flames encroaching, a rain of embers came all the way to the doorstep of the historic Prince of Wales Hotel. 

"It was the most intense fire I've ever been involved with, and I was never at that point where I thought we would lose it," said Calgary fire district Chief Jeff Primrose on Thursday. "Not even for a second."

There was no damage to the hotel even as the slopes around it burned. There was damage to some other infrastructure in the park including the visitor's centre.

A HEATED 31-HOUR BATTLE

Primrose said the teams of firefighters had enough time to prepare a perimeter and overland water supply systems to protect the hotel, as well as the majority of the other buildings. 

The team started work Monday morning at 8 a.m. MT and continued hard for the next 31 hours. From 9 p.m. Monday until 5 a.m. the next morning, there wasn't time to take a break as the fired rolled up within about a hundred metres of the hotel. 

"The embers were rolling up on the porch of the hotel," Primrose said. "We did get showered with embers, right up to the hotel."

The Kenow fire quadrupled in size in a period of two days earlier this week. It is still estimated to be roughly 36,000 hectares as of Thursday evening, but rain and cooler weather have given firefighters a break. 

Primrose gives full credit of the success to the team he had with him, as well as the other fire crews from other municipalities, a sentiment echoed by Calgary's Deputy Fire Chief Allan Ball. 

"I'm incredibly proud of Calgary firefighters," Ball said.

"They went down there with the commitment they were going to protect those assets, they did that."