Wabush mayor says town remains on alert

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Photo by Neil Simmons/Special to The Telegram

In the aftermath of Sunday night’s lift of an evacuation order for residents of Wabush in western Labrador, the town’s mayor says residents still need to be mindful of an alert advisory in place.

“At a moment’s notice, a call could come in telling people to leave,” said Ron Barron, who remained in Wabush over the course of the two-day evacuation order from Friday night to Sunday evening while a forest fire burned close to the community.

Over 1,700 people registered with the Canadian Red Cross in Labrador City during the evacuation.

According to Barron, thousands of hot spots remained within the fire zone as of Sunday night, but the Department of Natural Resources advised the mayor the fire was not posing a threat to the community and that residents could return home so long as an alert advisory remained in place.

Barron said the town will keep in touch with Fire and Emergency Services-Newfoundland and Labrador and the department for the time being.

“Even though there’s no active fires here close to town, there’s still literally thousands of hot spots that (government) has to get ground crews in to knock them out all together.”

He notes weather is dry in the area right now, and the extended forecast indicates it will remain that way for days to come.

“It’s only for the wind to change and flares start happening again that a threat could be imminent, and that’s why the alert status is still in place, just so people are still ready to go out and still have their bags packed with their essentials.”

A non-consumption advisory also remains in place with respect to the town’s water supply. Barron hopes that order can be lifted shortly, pending three straight tests indicating good water quality.

Waterbombers were using the town’s water supply to help fight the fire, and the advisory was put in place to prevent residents from potentially consuming contaminants.

Barron said air quality in the community was excellent as of Tuesday morning, with westerly winds having pushed smoke away from the community.

As for the evacuation itself, Barron said residents were calm and orderly.

The Trans Labrador Highway remains closed, with some essential traffic allowed to pass through the area alongside an escort.

Organizations: Canadian Red Cross, Department of Natural Resources, Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Wabush, Labrador

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