2020-09-02

Plethora of woods fires keeps local emergency crews busy

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FACEBOOK/AMANDA CONRAD</p><p>An image posted online, and shared to a local fire department&#8217;s social media platform, shows some of a woods fire incident in Middlewood, Lunenburg County.</p>

Volunteer first responders across Queens and Lunenburg counties found themselves consumed with wildland fires over several days last week despite burn bans impacting the western region of the province.

Unpaid and professional firefighting personnel have been stretched to deploy to woodland fires across the region. Emergency crews started getting a rash of alarms starting August 26 and were still getting dispatched to more incidents through the afternoon of August 28.

Blazes of note during the week in the Queens County area included incidents in the communities of Lake Rossignol, Whiteburn Mines, and also near the Freeman Lumber Mill off Medway River Road in Greenfield.

In Lunenburg County emergency crews were sent to Oxner Brook Road in West Dublin, Conquerall Road in Conquerall Mills, Woodstock Road in Walden, and Hirtle Road in Middlewood where fires broke out in those neighbourhoods.

Several fires were less than five hectares in size, Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry.

The blaze off Red Pine Road in Lake Rossignol, caused by a lightning strike, was fully contained with the help of 13 Lands and Forestry staff, along with Parks Canada crews, volunteer firefighters, several trucks, a water-dumping chopper and excavator, provincial department spokesman Brian Taylor told LighthouseNOW. The fire was less than four hectares in size.

"Human activity" is believed responsible for the Middlewood fire, Taylor indicated. The Conquerall Mills Road blaze was caused by "a campfire that was not properly extinguished."

One spot fire August 28 off the Leary Fraser Road in Whynotts Settlement was referred to RCMP. Meanwhile, firefighters found evidence of fireworks activity during the investigation of a wildland fire August 27 off the Feener Road in Maitland.

Wildland fires take on unique characteristics compared to structure fires, trained responders are told, as the unconfined flames are greatly influenced by the natural fuel of trees, shrubs or moss, the dry weather conditions, and type of terrain. Once ignited, these kinds of fires can spread quickly.

"The past two months we've seen the province in a very, very high to extreme fire danger. There's been very little rain," Kara McCurdy, a Lands and Forestry fire prevention officer, told CBC News about the dry weather.

"We're really trying to push the public to keep an eye on the burn restrictions and know that those are very important at this point," McCurdy said.

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