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Wildfire in Banff National Park causing travel headaches for visitors

BANFF, Alta. - Visitors planning to drive along a major highway in the Alberta Rockies may face delays due to a wildfire.

Parks Canada says a 20-kilometre stretch of Highway 93 North, also called the Icefields Parkway, just south of the junction with Highway 11 could be closed from 2 p.m. local time to 7 a.m. daily so fire crews can try to contain the Spreading Creek fire.

Lightning started the fire at the boundary between Banff National Park and the province of Alberta on July 3 and it has since grown to 25 square kilometres.

Parks Canada spokeswoman Tania Peters says they are trying to help shippers and tourists plan their trips so they don't face long delays.

On Monday, the section of highway from Saskatchewan Crossing to Waterfowl campground was closed at 2 p.m. and will reopen Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.

Peters says it's challenging because the fire is unpredictable, so if conditions put the public at risk, the highway will have to be closed.

"In an effort to minimize disruptions, our goal is to have the Icefields Parkway open as long as it is safe to do so. So there's potential for delays or closures any time, but it's highest after 2 p.m. until 7 a.m."

It's the busiest time of the year for Banff and Jasper national parks.

Peters said the best place to get up to date road information is the website 511.alberta.ca.

Ground and aerial crews are trying to prevent the fire from spreading west across Highway 93.

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