As heat wave approaches, wildfires continue to grow in Labrador West

A growing forest fire is burning near the Menihek hydroelectric dam in Labrador West.
A forest fire is burning near the Menihek hydroelectric dam in Labrador West. (Luke Swappie/Submitted by Rob Campbell)

Seven wildfires continued burning in Labrador on Monday, as meteorologists warned of extra pressure coming from intense heat in Atlantic Canada.

Four fires are out of control and three are being held. The Menihek Dam fire — 160 kilometres north of Labrador City — more than tripled in size Sunday.

Laurie Holloway, the provincial duty officer for wildfire response, said early Monday morning the Menihek Dam fire was estimated to be about 300 hectares as of Sunday. An air tanker was on site and another one had been asked to assist, she added.

By 10:30 a.m. Monday, the fire had grown to 1,039 hectares, with its status updated to being held, with a water bomber dispatched from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Holloway said the fire is concerning because it's four kilometres from the Menihek hydroelectric generating station, and there is a railroad in the area.

"There are some delays and disruption with the railway activity there right now. So our focus is to look at that fire and have a response on that one," she said.

The Milner Lake West fire — about 100 kilometres north of Labrador City — is also being held, but is not a priority because it doesn't pose an immediate risk to people or property.

Heat dome in Atlantic Canada

This week, a heat dome will settle over Atlantic Canada, according to CBC Newfoundland and Labrador meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler.

Hot temperatures can increase the risk and severity of wildfires by drying out the landscape, she said.

"This hot and humid air mass is going to bring well above seasonable temperatures to parts of the province for Wednesday and Thursday," Brauweiler said.

For Labrador, daytime highs will be in the upper 20s or low 30s Wednesday, with humidex values in the upper 30s or low 40s.

Brauweiler said the heat isn't good for Labrador's fire situation in Labrador but it won't be prolonged.

"The good news is that temperatures will drop back down for the rest of the week, which should certainly help," said Brauweiler.

Holloway said people can stay updated on the status of wildfires by using the province's new wildfire dashboard, which is updated four times a day.

Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.