Brush fire at southern Alberta tourist attraction prompts evacuation

A brush fire Thursday prompted the evacuation of a southern Alberta tourist attraction, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

Fire crews douses the flames at the site, which is west of Fort Macleod on Blackfoot First Nation territory.

Several pictures and video on social media show the scorched ground and burning shrubs, as well as smoke filling the air.

Kevin Heinrichs, who witnessed the bush fire, told CBC News he arrived at the location around noon with plans to enjoy the attraction with his family.

“As we drove up, we saw smoke from a ways away. And as we got closer, we realized it was coming from the ground of the interpretive centre,” he said.

The interpretive centre at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is at the entrance of the complex.

Heinrichs said it’s hard to tell if there is damage to the concrete buildings, but the grass around it had been scorched.

“It looks like the fire trucks are on scene putting it out,” he said. “There’s less smoke now than when we arrived.”

He added that strong winds are fanning the smoke and flames to nearby grass and bush, but around 12 fire trucks are on scene and appear to have it under control.

Kevin Heinrichs, a witness to the fire, says smoke filled the air but fire crews seemed to have the situation under control. (Kevin Heinrichs)

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buffalo jump was used for thousands of years by Indigenous peoples to kill the large animals by driving them off the cliff, which is 11 metres (36 feet) high. 

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