Help on the way for central Newfoundland fire Premier says is largest since 1961
August 8, 2022 By The Canadian Press
The rapid growth of a long-burning forest fire in central Newfoundland has triggered a state of emergency in the area and prompted the province’s Premier to urge some nearby communities to prepare for possible evacuation.
In a video posted to social media Saturday night, Premier Andrew Furey described the blaze as the largest the province has seen since 1961.
“I want to stress, also, that right now, the current predictive path of the blaze itself does not directly impact any communities,” Furey said in the video, which was filmed at the Fire Prevent and Command Centre at the Gander Airport. “That said, the wind is changing, and the pattern of smoke distribution will change significantly.”
He said that prompted him to ask Public Safety Minister John Hogan to declare a state of emergency for Grand Falls-Windsor, Bishop’s Falls and the Connaigre Peninsula.
Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair tweeted he had approved Newfoundland’s request for government assistance, and Canadian Armed Forces personnel will be deployed to help provincial and municipal officials with evacuation efforts.
Furey said he has asked the Central Health region to create an evacuation plan for hospitals, long-term care homes, and personal care homes.
“We are strongly recommending that all citizens in the areas mentioned to be on high alert for future possible evacuations,” the premier said.
“This is a dynamic situation and we don’t want to create panic. That’s why we’re acting now, in a controlled, responsible fashion.”
The fire has been burning for close to two weeks, and has prompted road closures, including the Bay d’Espoir Highway is the only road connecting the communities of Harbour Breton, Hermitage and Conne River to the Trans-Canada Highway, the main thoroughfare across the province.
The Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture tweeted Sunday morning that the Canadian Red Cross and Salvation Army will deliver emergency services for those who are stranded on the Trans-Canada Highway as a result of the Bay d’Espoir Highway closure.