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Amid Maritime forest fires, P.E.I. takes steps to prevent more

Prince Edward Island remains the only Maritime province not fighting forest fires, but concerns are growing there.

In the wake of post-tropical storm Fiona, the island’s forests are filled with broken, dead, and dry trees – ample fuel.

That’s clear when you come into the P.E.I. National Park.

Fiona devastated trees in the park, but the damage isn’t done. The downed trees are now becoming a forest fire hazard beyond the normal fire management plan.

“Whenever you get a big event like this, you do need to hit the pause button and reevaluate where the specific risks lie,” said Scott Murphy, national fire manager with Parks Canada in the P.E.I. National Park.

The say staff are taking action in the park to mitigate that risk.

Parks Canada are also meeting with nearby communities to address their concerns.

“We hear their concerns, we understand the concerns, and we share those concerns in the park. Visitor safety is our number-one priority,” said Kim Gamble, P.E.I. National Park resource conservation manager.

The park is equipped with firefighting equipment, including hoses and chainsaws, to respond to forest fires.

Trees are knocked down, blown over, and broken by Fiona’s fury, slowly drying out as the warm weather starts.

The province has programs to clean up trees on public and private property, but the bottleneck is contractors, who have had more work than they can handle since the storm.

With that in mind, the province announced a $500,000 program Friday to train public servants as forest firefighters.

“If there’s somebody who works in any department in the provincial government and they want to get the training so they can help fight fires,” said Environment, Energy and Climate Action Minister Steven Myers. “Then we’ll train them, we’ll pay for them, and we’ll make sure that they can go fight fires and still get a paycheque.”

In addition, officials say they are pre-emptively cutting fire breaks to protect homes and communities on the island. Top Stories


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