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Birch Island boardwalk damaged by fire in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Water bombers were called in to assist with the fire on the boardwalk on Sunday, June 17.
Water bombers were called in to assist with the fire on the boardwalk on Sunday, June 17. - Evan Careen

Local company offered to pay for damages

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Water bombers were overhead in the skies in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Sunday, June 17 combatting a fire by the newly constructed boardwalk near Birch Island.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Fire Chief Brad Butler told The Labradorian they got the call at about 2:30 p.m. but soon realized that because of the location they could not access the fire.

“It was inaccessible to the fire department so Forestry was called in and they responded with their ground crew and water bomber,” he said.

A section of the boardwalk was damaged by fire.
A section of the boardwalk was damaged by fire.

As to the cause, Butler said since the area is wet and boggy, they would deem it to be suspicious.

“It’s surrounded by the creek, it’s very curious,” he said. “There may have been people in the area, there are still many factors that are being looked at.”

Butler said it was about 4 p.m. when the fire department left the scene. Sections of the boardwalk were damaged by the fire.

Marina Biasutti-Brown, executive director of Healthy Waters Labrador, the group responsible for raising funds to build the boardwalk, estimates about $2,000 worth of damage to the structure.

“We planned for water damage and wind and snow, but we didn’t plan for fire,” she told The Labradorian. “We never expected a fire in a wetland. But people go in there, so it’s a possibility.”

She said a local company volunteered to repair the damage free of charge once they heard of the plight.

“A company has offered to pay for it,” Biasutti-Brown said. “We’re really relieved. We’re starting construction again soon and (we are) an organization operating with limited funds, so it’s very appreciated.”

Fire safety tips

Since it is that time of year in Labrador when fires can be a concern, Butler had a few fire prevention tips for people.

“If you’re going to have a backyard fire, make sure you have a closed fire pit with a spark arresting screen and even a water supply handy in case anything does get out of control,” the Fire Chief said. “The same if you’re disposing of a cigarette butt or matches or whatever, be safe about it, make sure it’s out.”

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