Impassable road leaves Elliston house to burn after blizzard

Snow-covered roads blocked the path of firefighters in Elliston on Saturday morning, and left a home to burn in the community.

Bonavista Mayor John Norman — whose fire department also serves Elliston — said firefighters responded to the call near the peak of the storm on Saturday morning, and couldn't make it to the fire in the nearby community in time.

"Elliston is about five minutes away, but municipal and provincial roads were completely impassable for emergency vehicles at the height of the storm," he told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning. 

"We could not reach the fire successfully, and the home was a complete loss."

Submitted by Cory Fisher

Despite the help of a snowplow, Norman said, there was a similar challenge with calls for an ambulance during the storm.

"Thankfully, during the storm, they were not severe calls of a very extreme or serious nature. But attempts to reach one home in particular during the storm with plows and ambulance failed."

Elliston's deputy mayor, Geraldine Baker, said when firefighters eventually arrived, the house was almost totally destroyed, and neighbouring houses were in danger as well.

She said the two people living inside the burnt-out home got out safely, and have been offered a place to stay in rental accommodations in the town.

Elliston, Newfoundland & Labrador/Facebook

Baker complimented the firefighters and plow drivers for their work during the challenging situation.

The Town of Bonavista declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon, during the storm. Winds gusted to 164 km/h during the weekend, and waves broke over the seawall that protects land in Bonavista.

Norman called the damage to the seawall "the most notable damage, and those that had me up and concerned for many hours, making lots of calls."

Elliston, Newfoundland & Labrador/Facebook

"In some cases, significant land lost. Ten, 12, up to 15 feet of land has disappeared in this one storm," he said. 

"So of course I've been sending out messages to those government offices looking for some provincial and federal support as quickly as possible on the engineering issues around that." 

The sea spray also covered several homes, and the water froze into ice on some.

Norman said the seawall was breached in six different places, and estimated the cost of repairs at more than a million dollars.

He said he was looking for federal government to help pay for the damages.

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