Fire-damaged transmission line could take several weeks to repair
Power has been restored to most residential zones of Jasper but community members are being reminded to conserve energy and visitors are being asked to reschedule their trips to Jasper National Park.
“Now is not the time to visit Jasper National Park,” Parks Canada said in a statement.
The ongoing power outage caused by the Chetamon Mountain wildfire that continues to burn approximately 18 kilometres east of the Jasper townsite has necessitated the community to implement its Emergency Support Services plan.
After the power was first knocked out on Sunday, September 4, ATCO worked to restore power, beginning with critical infrastructure, then phasing in residential neighbourhoods. The lights came on in some areas on Tuesday afternoon, while other neighbourhoods were without power until just after 12 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7. Some areas of the town are still waiting to come online.
“The power has a limited capacity and priority needs to be placed on critical services,” Jasper National Park said in a statement.
ATCO said that technical difficulties prevented power restoration to the entire community yesterday.
“The complex process of generator power transference has delayed full restoration,” ATCO said in a statement.
The community will remain on generator power until ATCO can repair the power lines and infrastructure which were damaged in the wildfire.
Yesterday, ATCO field technicians were able to complete a partial evaluation of the damage to the transmission line. Currently there are 18 structures damaged due to the wildfire. A more through assessment should be completed by this evening, ATCO representatives said.
“Rebuilding of the transmission infrastructure can take up to several weeks and residents and businesses can expect to be on generator power during this time,” a statement from ATCO reads.
At its regularly scheduled council meeting, Jasper municipal council received an update on the situation from Jasper’s CAO, Bill Given. Councillors were encouraged to relay the message to residents to conserve energy wherever possible.
“We want to encourage people to make decisions so that everybody can use power,” Mayor Richard Ireland added. “It’s important to conserve even when the lights come on, so to speak.”
ATCO’s power saving tips include minimizing the use of high-draw appliances such as dishwashers and clothes driers, air conditioners and space heaters.
An abundance of caution
As extra resources are recruited to help fight the Chetamon wildfire, Parks Canada is setting up protective measures around critical infrastructure, including the townsite. A large-scale, high-volume sprinkler system is currently being erected on the community fire guard, located on the Pyramid Bench.
“These are proactive measures,” Given told council. “There is no change in our circumstance.”
Trails on the Pyramid Bench are closed to users to ensure public safety and to allow efficient fire management operations.
Bob Covey // firstname.lastname@example.org