As forest fires continue burning, N.L. to get help from Quebec

·3 min read
A large forest fire near the Bay d'Espoir Highway has been burning since July 24. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador/Twitter - image credit)
A large forest fire near the Bay d'Espoir Highway has been burning since July 24. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador/Twitter - image credit)
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador/Twitter
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador/Twitter

Several forest fires burning in Newfoundland unexpectedly worsened on Tuesday, mainly due to windy and dry conditions.

Fires near Paradise Lake, Bay d'Espoir and Southern Lake were all out of control as of Tuesday morning, said provincial forest fire duty officer Jeff Motty on Wednesday.

The province closed the Bay d'Espoir Highway on Tuesday, reopened it for a short time Wednesday morning, but closed it again shortly before noon due to a "significant" amount of smoke.

Motty said reopening the Bay d'Espoir Highway was a main objective for crews fighting the fires.

The fire near Bay d'Espoir has been burning since July 24, and flared up again around 1 p.m. Tuesday, Motty said.

As the fires continue to tie up resources and pose problems for fire crews, the province will be getting a little help.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the provincial government announced seven crew members and three aircraft from Quebec, including two water bombers, will be dispatched to central Newfoundland for five to seven days.

Veterans Memorial Highway reopens

The province reopened Veterans Memorial Highway after closing it Tuesday evening due to a forest fire near several homes and businesses in Carbonear. Shortly before 8:30 a.m. NT on Wednesday, Motty said they hadn't yet contained the fire, but the risk to homes in the area was decreasing.

"Our plan for today is to continue working that fire until it's extinguished," Motty said.

The fire began Tuesday afternoon, behind the Canadian Tire and Dairy Queen on Columbus Drive in Carbonear.

"It was close," he said. "There was things that we had to worry about for firefighter safety."

Motty said they diverted a water bomber from the forest fire near the Bay d'Espoir highway on Tuesday because pilots were unable to fly safely due to smoke. The planes are now helping fight the Carbonear forest fire instead.

Motty said six personnel and two pumps were also at the Carbonear fire Wednesday morning. He said 15 per cent of the perimeter had been contained but they still consider the blaze to be out of control. He said the crew on site was developing a plan and would call in additional resources if necessary.

"The crews really hope to get that fire knocked down before the heat of the day," he said.

Fires near Paradise Lake, Southern Lake take a turn for the worse

The fire in the Paradise Lake area also flared up around 1 p.m. Tuesday, and was still out of control as of Wednesday morning. Motty said crews had safely been removed from the area and are developing a plan of attack.

Two fires near Southern Lake in central Newfoundland have worsened and may have combined into a single fire, he said.

"We've got to collect a lot of information and develop a plan," Motty said.

He said crews have "considerable" resources, including water bombers, and the forest fire protection centre in Gander is deciding how to allocate those resources.

Motty said a fire near Triton Brook/Deer Pond is still under control and is being monitored.

Motty said 66 fires have burned more than 2,700 hectares in Newfoundland and Labrador. While 2022 is an active year for forest fires in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2020 saw more than 4,000 burn, mostly due to fires in remote parts of Labrador.

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