Chicken farmers back to work
Hot spots still blaze in the area around Cochrane pond, where a forest fire erupted Tuesday near the Country Ribbon chicken farm.
Campers and chicken farm workers were evacuated Tuesday afternoon and night after a fire swept through 8.5 hectares of nearby forest.
After firefighters and a provincial government water bomber subdued the fire, the evacuation order was lifted early this morning.
Chicken farm employees are back to work and there is no smoke smell in the air.
Firefighters are working to put out any hot spots today.
Forest fire threatens businesses
Country Ribbon facility, camping area evacuated near Cochrane Pond
Employees of a Country Ribbon chicken farm near Cochrane Pond were given a jolt Tuesday afternoon when a nearby forest fire forced them to evacuate their workplace.
A provincial government water bomber doused the flames multiple times and eventually managed to beat them back. According to provincial forest fire duty officer Dan Lavigne, the fire’s size was initially estimated to be five hectares and later was believed to have increased in size.
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The blaze was first reported about 2 p.m. Workers at the chicken farm were told to evacuate, and vehicles were observed leaving the chicken farm shortly before 2:30 p.m.
“We were just working in the barns and our supervisor told us we had to get out,” said Gerard Finn, who was among several workers who waited by the overpass while fire crews battled the blaze. “I could smell smoke, but I wasn’t sure what it was.”
Flames observed along one of the roads surrounding the farm reached heights of 25 to 30 feet. Lavigne said the fire was reportedly three-quarters of a mile west of the farm and initially labelled as “out of control.”
Finn said once he left the farm and had a chance to observe the scene from the overpass, he felt less anxious about the situation.
“The water bomber seems to have it under control there,” Finn said.
Michelle Earle was on her way to Cochrane Pond Family Campground when she observed smoke from the road.
“We seen all the smoke, and we said, ‘Oh my God, is it in the park?’ I had forgotten my cellphone in the trailer. As we got closer, I noticed it was further up.”
The park had not been evacuated at that point, and Earle was able to retrieve her family’s dog as well pick up a friend
who did not have transportation.
“I was wondering if I should turn off the propane or not, or should I just leave,” she said.
People were later ordered to leave the campground. Several campers gathered at the overpass as they awaited news about the fire. Earle said it was fortunate the park was not busy Tuesday.
The water bomber left the scene shortly after 5 p.m. and the evacuation order for both the farm and Cochrane Pond Family Campground was lifted at approximately the same time, but an evacuation alert remained in effect as of 6 p.m. as a precautionary measure.
Crews from the St. John’s Regional Fire Department also responded to the fire, as did the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
The fire index for eastern Newfoundland was moderate to extreme as of Tuesday.
Rainfall is in the forecast for Thursday.
— With files from Keith Gosse
A waterbomber has been successful at beating back flames of a forest fire near Cochrane Pond outside the City of St. John's.
Earlier today, the Country Ribbon chicken facility in the area was evacuated, along with any campers in the area as as westerly wind pushed the fire in that direction.
Workers at the Country Ribbon facililty along the Trans Canada Highway have been evacuated due to a nearby forest fire that’s about 1,500 feet in diametre.
A waterbomber is expected to be on the scene within minutes. A helicopter has also been surveying the fire from overhead.
St. John's Regional Fire Department crews, forestry officials and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were on the scene as of 2:30 p.m. today.
Vehicles can be seen leaving the area, and police are not allowing traffic to enter the road leading to the facility.
Campers in the area were also alerted about the fire and asked to leave the area as the wind is pushing the fire, that is west of the Country Ribbon area, toward the facility. The fire has also jumped a woods road in the area.
The province’s forestry officials with the Department of Natural Resources and the St. John’s Regional Fire Department are responding to a forest fire in the area of Paddy’s Pond, just outside of St. John’s.
Smoke can be seen in the area and fears are the fire is headed toward the Country Ribbon poultry farm.
Updates to follow on our website and more coverage in Wednesday’s Telegram print edition.
— Information in this story has edited since initial publication.