Dorian power outages mean no water to fight fires in parts of Inverness County

People in parts of Cape Breton's Inverness County are being warned not to use candles or anything else that might spark a fire because post-Dorian power outages have knocked out local water treatment plants.

Several communities don't have any water for fighting fires. The municipality has issued a warning on social media to residents of Inverness, Port Hastings, Judique, Port Hood, Whycocomagh and Mabou.

The local treatment plants can't supply water because of the ongoing power outages.

"It puts up the risk for a house fire," Inverness County Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said Tuesday. 

She said community reservoirs typically set aside 40 percent of their water for emergency use by fire departments. But she said the supply "is not there" in several communities where the power has been out since the weekend.

MacQuarrie said there have been instances in the past when local treatment plants have been out of power for a day or two, but can't remember a prolonged outage affecting several at a time.

The outages also mean customers hooked to the municipal water supply in those communities have little or no water for drinking or bathing.

Free bottled water

Comfort centres in local fire halls are supplying free bottled water.

MacQuarrie said even though she expects the power will be restored in those communities by late Tuesday or Wednesday, it will take "some time" for the reservoirs to replenish.

Officials with the county have said it could take up to a day.

It's another symptom, she said, of aging water infrastructure across the municipality that must be upgraded or replaced.

County council will discuss the most recent outages at a later debriefing, said MacQuarrie, and will likely talk about possible solutions, such as generators to power the treatment plants.