Published on June 27, 2013
Life as usual earlier this week at the community playground in Labrador City despite the menacing forest fire just a few kilometers away. — Photo submitted by Larry Jenkins, Labrador City
Published on June 26, 2013
Crews refuel and perform maintenance on the water bomber as the smoke from the nearby fires envelopes the tarmac and towns of Labrador West.
— Photo by Neil Simmons/Special to The Telegram
The Department of Natural Resources has implemented an outdoor fire ban for forest land in western Labrador to help prevent further forest fires.
The ban includes the town of Churchill Falls and all areas located west of Churchill Falls.
With Canada Day approaching, all fireworks are included in the ban except for sanctioned firework displays conducted by town and local communities which have appropriate fire suppression resources on hand.
A news release notes that recent dry weather and hot temperatures experienced in Labrador have heightened the forest fire threat throughout many areas. The forest fire index is currently at high levels and is expected to continue to climb by the weekend.
Unauthorized burning, including campfires and brush burning, cannot take place in and around forested areas. Gas barbeques and CSA approved patio wood burning devices are excluded.
Residents are reminded to be vigilant when in or around forested areas during the Canada Day holiday weekend.
The outdoor fire ban will be lifted when weather and forest conditions warrant.
For more information, contact the district forest offices.
The RNC in the Labrador West Region has issued an update regarding forest fires in Labrador and the closure of the Trans-Labrador Highway.
In the interest of public safety while the water bombers, helicopters and fire officials are continuing to work the burned area, the Trans Labrador Highway will remain closed while crews are managing flare ups.
At this time, however, escorts have resumed for transport of supplies and for those cases deemed absolutely necessary, as long as it remains safe to do so.
There is no immediate threat from the fire at this time to the nearby municipalities.
A forest fire in Labrador near the communities of Wabush and Labrador City continued to burn out of control Tuesday, though not in the direction of either of the municipalities.
“It’s hard to appreciate unless you’re there to witness it,” said Eric Young, provincial fire duty officer.
“It’s still a dangerous situation. The fire is out of control,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
As of deadline, the fire was no closer to Wabush than when it started during the weekend.
The closest flanks were about eight kilometres away.
The head of the fire was headed away from the communities, Young said.
“That’s gone way down through the country and is actually dipping down into Quebec” he said.
On Tuesday three water bombers, two helicopters and 11 people were working on the blaze. The crews weren’t working on the head of the fire, but trying to manage the flanks.
“What we’re trying to do is protect cabins that are in that area there. There’s an area called Blueberry Hill and there’s a lot of cabins associated with that,” Young said.
While several cabins in the area have been lost, Young couldn’t confirm a number, saying smoke was too thick for crews to get a good grasp on the damage.
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Tuesday.
“It’s still heading away from town. We’re still getting some smoke in town,” he said.
Barron advised residents with breathing problems to keep their windows closed.
Young confirmed winds from the east were bringing some smoke into Wabush. One piece of good news about the winds was they were substantially lighter than Monday. Overnight, Young said the cooler temperatures and the winds, which had dropped to about 10 km per hour, slowed progress of the fire. On Saturday the blaze was an estimated 500 hectares.
On Tuesday it was pegged at about 6,500 hectares.
“It’s a significant-size fire and it’s mainly because of the fuel types,” Young said, adding caribou moss, mature black spruce and dry weather had provided good conditions for a blaze.
“When you get a large fire like that it’s very difficult to try and suppress it. The best we can do is manage it,” said Young.
An incident management team of forest professionals trained in managing large fires was headed to the area Tuesday to take over the operation. With the weather looking dry for the much of the rest of the week, Young said, crews were getting ready for a tough go.
“It’s going to be a lot of work,” he said.
On Tuesday, the RNC said the Trans-Labrador Highway would remain closed between Route 500 (closest to Wabush) and Deville Lake. They were making exceptions for group escorts of commercial vehicles containing necessary supplies and individuals with certain medical concerns.
The RNC assured there was no immediate threat to nearby municipalities, but residents were advised to avoid outdoor physical activity and homeowners reminded to keep windows shut and ventilation systems off to prevent smoke from entering.
Cabin owners were told to not attempt to enter the area of the fire to check on their properties.
Barron said people should listen to proper news outlets and not social media sites for the correct information.
“You got Facebook out there and the wrong messages are being sent. It’s fuelling the fire, if you know what I’m trying to say.”