2017-04-19

Crews fight back-to-back forest fires in Queens County

by Michael Lee

  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p><p>A truck from the Mill Village &amp; District Fire Department makes its way to Old Port Medway Road after being called to a forest fire on the afternoon of April 13. Liverpool and Port Medway fire departments also responded, only to be called to another forest fire in West Berlin immediately after.</p>
  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p><p>Fire crews from three departments were called to a forest fire along Old Port Medway Road on April 13. The road is a dirt pathway stretching from Eastern Shore Road just outside of Brooklyn across to the intersection of Eastern Shore Road and Port Medway Road.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Firefighters work on a small brush fire that broke out around noon on April 15 along Molega Road in South Brookfield.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Fire crews on Molega Road after a fire broke out in South Brookfield during mid-day on April 15.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Two firefighters walk back from the scene of a fire off of Molega Road in South Brookfield. Crews from North Queens, Liverpool, Greenfield and Hemford were called in on April 15.</p>

Fire departments were kept busy over the Easter weekend as several fires broke out across Lunenburg and Queens counties.

Crews from three departments fought a pair of forest fires on Thursday, April 13, beating one down in the afternoon only to be called to another immediately after which continued into the following day.

The Liverpool, Port Medway and Mill Village & District fire departments responded to the initial fire along Old Port Medway Road.

According to a Facebook post from Dahl Dispatch, the departments received the call at 3:29 p.m.

Old Port Medway Road is a dirt pathway stretching from Eastern Shore Road just outside of Brooklyn east to the intersection of Eastern Shore Road and Port Medway Road.

One resident from Port Medway and two from West Berlin confirmed that a camp had burned down.

A few hours later, Dahl Dispatch listed another forest fire at 7:03 p.m. This time, it was in the West Berlin area.

Chief of the Port Medway Fire Department Kendall Farmer said they received the call just as crews were leaving Old Port Medway Road.

He said about 30 firefighters in all from the volunteer departments were called in to fight both fires. About half a dozen members from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were also present.

A DNR helicopter was requested for the West Berlin fire, but it grew too late for it to be used.

About 20 members from the Liverpool and Port Medway departments returned the next morning, April 14, to continue fighting the fire.

The DNR was responsible for overseeing the two forest fires and an official on site said the one in West Berlin was about 6.1 hectares in size and started in long grass by a creek in the forest.

He said no structures were damaged although a few trees had caught fire. By mid-morning, as crews continued to battle the fires, the official said there were no active flames and the DNR helicopter did not need to be called in because the fire was not large enough.

It is unknown how big the earlier fire on Old Port Medway Road was, but the DNR official said it was currently out.

The causes of both fires have not been determined but an investigation will be conducted.

Meanwhile, the Greenfield Fire Department was called to the Liverpool fire hall on standby, while the Italy Cross Fire Department was stationed in Port Medway.

Going into Saturday, April 15, North Queens, Liverpool, Greenfield and Hemford fire departments responded to a small brush fire around noon just off Molega Road in South Brookfield, with DNR personnel also at the scene.

The fire began along the old railroad tracks and chief of the North Queens Fire Association Chris Wolfe said it was an acre in size and taken out within an hour.

But throughout the day, firefighters found themselves rushing to a number of other small fires across the South Shore, including in Maitland where Blockhouse, Lunenburg, Oakhill and Mahone Bay fire departments responded to a woods fire that started after a campfire grew out of control.

Blockhouse was called out again to a grass fire on Ernst Road where winds picked up hot embers left behind from a burn the night before. Oakhill and Lunenburg were also on site.

As the day wore on, Greenfield attended a small woods fire that began close to a power line, with Tri-District and Liverpool assisting; Chester Basin, Chester and Western Shore departments fought a half acre grass fire on Corkum Road that burned the sidings off of two out-buildings; Martin's River, Mahone Bay and Western Shore departments attended a grass fire near a home; and Liverpool, Lunenburg and Chester departments were each called out to separate fires later in the evening.

Chester and Greenfield each responded to grass fires on Sunday.

Firefighters told LighthouseNOW that the weather has been drier than normal, but chief of the Blockhouse fire department Paula MacDonald said people are also not paying attention to when they're not allowed to burn. "To educate people more is the most important thing," she said.

Burn restrictions have been in effect since March 15 when wildfire risk season began. The Nova Scotia Burn Safe website had restrictions in place for all counties on April 15 and 16, meaning burning was only allowed between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Chief of the Chester Basin Fire Department Doug Rines said people seem to be burning without checking the website.

The DNR is responsible for handing out fines to people who violate these restrictions. Wildfire risk season lasts until October 15.

MacDonald said DNR personnel may visit the homes where fires occurred and speak to the people there.

The Burn Safe website is updated at 2 p.m. every day. Restrictions by county are also available by phone at 1-855-564-2876.

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