Smoke from Quebec still lingers over Wabush

Josh Pennell
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More than 15,000 hectares of forest razed in Labrador

Smoke from Quebec fires continued to affect the town of Wabush on Wednesday while the fire in Labrador West continued to burn out of control, albeit not close enough to Wabush to cause any immediate threat.

Wabush Mayor Ron Barron said ground crews were working the closest threats from the blaze.

“They’ve been hitting it hard here on what’s called the west front closest to town,” he said.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said an infrared scanner deployed by helicopter early Wednesday morning identified hot spots which were then tackled by ground crews.

Firefighters from the Iron Ore Co. of Canada, as well as from the Labrador City and Wabush fire departments assisted ground crews along the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Helicopters with water buckets also assisted the ground crews in dousing the hot spots, but high winds did cause some flare-ups in the afternoon. DNR said water bombers were deployed to the flare-up sites.

Despite that, the number of hot spots around the perimeter have been reduced significantly over the past two days. Hot spots still remain in the area and fire crews continued to locate and extinguish them.

By afternoon, there were no open flames visible along the perimeter.

Barron said by afternoon the wind had taken the Quebec fire smoke away, but it was still something of a step backward that the town was suffering from it again.

He added they also had a good week last week, but then had the setback of smoke from Quebec.

A number of cabins have either been damaged or lost due to the blaze and the mayor warned people against being too eager to go investigate or try and salvage things from their properties.

“People have got to be patient,” Barron said, adding that with hot spots still around, a shift in the wind could easily put people in danger.

Wabush is still under a state of emergency and there’s also a no-consumption order on the water supply. Barron said that may be taken off this week.

“That’s what we’re hoping.”

Ordinarily there would be a span of weeks while testing was done on the water, but according to Barron, because they’ve already tested for contaminants and found the water clean in that regard, the town could get the go ahead to remove the ban if the most recent test comes back clean.

He said it’s been a trying couple of weeks.

“I would love to see it behind us.”

The Labrador west fire has been burning since June 23 and has affected an estimated 27,000 hectares — 15,000 hectares of that burn area are located in Labrador and 12,000 are in in Quebec.

Another fire located 80 kilometres west of Goose Bay had visible open flames Wednesday and DNR reported lots of smoke from the blaze.


Labrador Fire Facts

•   Date started — June 23.

•   Resources working on blaze —  

Three water bombers, six helicopters, 50 personnel, and an incident management team that is highly skilled and has many years of experience fighting forest fires throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

•    Other resources available —

Three additional water bombers are stationed on the island — two in Gander and one in St. John’s, along with six helicopters and a team of firefighters. There is also a water bomber in St. John’s from New Brunswick and one professional from New Brunswick is also serving on the incident-management team in Wabush.

•   Size — The Wabush fire has burned an estimated 27,000 hectares, 15,000 of which are in Labrador. The remaining 12,000 hectares are in Quebec.

•    Current state of fire — Out of control.

•    Number of days the fire has been

burning — 19


Source: Department of Natural Resources

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources, Iron Ore Co. of Canada

Geographic location: Wabush, Quebec, Labrador West Labrador Goose Bay

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