With St. Lewis's only fire truck out of service, residents can only watch as shed burns down

A St. Lewis man watched his shed burn down last weekend as problems with equipment kept local fire crews from fully fighting the flames. (Submitted by Vanessa Turnbull - image credit)
A St. Lewis man watched his shed burn down last weekend as problems with equipment kept local fire crews from fully fighting the flames. (Submitted by Vanessa Turnbull - image credit)
Submitted by Vanessa Turnbull
Submitted by Vanessa Turnbull

A woman in the Labrador community of St. Lewis is speaking up about a lack of fire services after nothing could be done to stop her son's shed from burning down earlier this month.

Phyllis Mangrove's son, Kirk, was away from home last weekend when his shed caught fire. Mangrove, who lives next door, called the local volunteer department — only to find out they couldn't do anything.

"The fire truck was broke down, and they had a big pump in that could go in the back of a truck. And they had a hose, but that didn't work because it was froze up. So they couldn't do nothing," Mangrove said Tuesday.

"All of the harbour was down here at the time, and they just stood and watched as it burned down to the ground."

Mangrove said her son rushed home and suffered some burns trying to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher. He lost much of his belongings in the shed, along with a snowmobile he was fixing for a friend, she said.

At one point, the shed's damaged electrical wiring threatened to ignite her own home, she said.

It's not the first time Mangrove has faced a fire in the community. She says more needs to be done to improve services in the area.

"I had a house that burned down 40 years ago. I lost my home to a fire, and nothing has changed since then. Nothing. Not a thing," she said.

"That's ridiculous in this day and age. Everybody should have fire protection."

Submitted by Vanessa Turnbull
Submitted by Vanessa Turnbull

St. Lewis Mayor Helen Poole says with the community's only fire truck out of service, they need new firefighting equipment.

"We do have a brand new pump, the only issue is our truck. The old fire truck don't work anymore," said Poole.

In emergencies, the town attaches the water pump to a volunteer's truck, Poole said. But they also have limited access to water and sewer services, she added, which often sends firefighters to nearby ponds or the ocean to get water.

"It's not the most convenient thing, because, you know, normally you'd want to have a fire hydrant," she said. "Because of this area and the location of the shed, by the time I think everyone, the fire brigade got there, it was in a big blaze." The firefighters focused on preventing the fire from spreading to other buildings nearby, she said.

Poole says the town is working to move into a new fire house soon and is meeting with Liberal MHA Lisa Dempster in the next couple of weeks to ask for a new fire truck.

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