Forestry staff aids SJRFD to control flames near residential areas
A water bomber is silhouetted against the dusk sky as it drops its load on a brush fire in Maddox Cove Sunday evening. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Firefighters in the St. John’s metro area were busy on a warm Sunday dealing with brush fires.
The Department of Natural Resources assisted the St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) to combat a brush fire in Shea Heights Sunday afternoon, and both groups were later involved in efforts to combat brush fires in Maddox Cove and Goulds.
According to shift Supt. Don Byrne of the SJRFD, the main concern for authorities in Shea Heights was the fire’s close proximity to residential areas.
Byrne added the fire did not prove to be much of a threat for local residents in the end, as officials responded to the incident quickly.
The fire occurred in a forested area near the baseball field on Linegar Avenue around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Crews had it under control approximately one hour later. The homes closest to the fire were on Chafe Avenue.
Provincial forestry staff were on the scene Sunday, with members of the SJRFD providing them with a water supply to take care of the remaining flames. Some fires appeared to extinguish themselves. Byrne said this was due to dampness that remained in the forest.
There were further reports early Sunday evening of another brush fire in the Shea Heights area.
Crews were called to Goulds shortly after 5 p.m. to respond to a fire in a wooded area between the Main Road and Racetrack Road. Byrne said it was initially called in as a structure fire, but that proved not to be the case — the fire was as close as 25 to 30 feet from one house.
Byrne said firefighters focused on making sure the blaze did not spread to homes and the nearby racetrack. The fire flamed in isolated spots within an area of 250 feet by 100 feet.
The Goulds Volunteer Fire Department and Mount Pearl firefighters also responded to the scene.
Aircraft were involved dropping water on some fires that flared up Sunday. Byrne said there was another brush fire along the Southern Shore and one in Maddox Cove that was not posing a threat to residential areas.
The Trinity-Conception RCMP also reported a large brush fire in Bryant’s Cove in the evening, with police advising members of the public to stay away from the area to give emergency vehicles full access to the scene.
Conditions were warm Sunday in the St. John’s metro area, with temperatures regularly reaching the high teens. Brush fires have been known to occur more frequently as warm spring weather makes its presence felt, and Byrne said the fire department has been busy of late responding to such calls.
Last week, the Department of Natural Resources issued a news release stressing the need for members of the public to apply for permits to burn during the official forest fire season. That season commenced on May 1 and will remain in effect until late September.
The permits are free for lighting outdoor fires to clear land or burn brush within 300 metres of a forest. They can be picked up at district forest management offices.
Fires for cooking and camping do not require permits, but the department is advising people to follow regulations.