Help on the way for central Newfoundland fire Premier says is largest since 1961
The rapid growth of a long-burning forest fire in central Newfoundland has triggered a state of emergency in the area and the expansion of an outdoor fire ban to the entire province.
Premier Andrew Furey told reporters on Sunday the state of emergency was declared the night before in the areas of Grand Falls-Windsor, Bishop's Falls and the Connaigre Peninsula, "not to create panic" but to ensure residents and officials alike are ready to respond if the situation deteriorates further. The state of emergency was also extended to the area of Botwood on Sunday afternoon.
"Over the last 36 hours, things have changed," Furey said at a news conference, alongside Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture Minister Derrick Bragg and Department of Natural Resources Incident Commander Craig Coady.
"We were predicting that we could manage this. However with the wind change, we are afraid that there will be significant smoke impact."
"This is a precautionary measure, and there is no immediate fire hazard to homes or residents," the province said in a statement.
Furey said the current predictive path of the blaze itself does not directly impact any communities, but changing wind patterns were making the situation difficult to handle.
He said that prompted him to ask Public Safety Minister John Hogan to declare a state of emergency, and urged some nearby communities to prepare for possible evacuation.
"This is a dynamic, evolving situation as all fires are, but we can't wait for the last minute we have to act now," Furey said.
The fire has been burning for close to two weeks in central Newfoundland and has prompted road closures, including the Bay d'Espoir Highway, which 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.
Coady said the wildfires will most likely continue to burn out of control due to the weather conditions.
"Over the past couple days, we've seen some extreme fire behaviour," he said at the news conference. "We expect to see that continue for today and possibly for the next few days. This is due to the high winds and low humidity."
Coady and Furey both said smoke posed the most significant risk for nearby communities, adding winds were also making it difficult for firefighters to control the blazes.
"If the (water) bombers can't see ahead of the fire and it's too smoky, it's not safe for them to operate," Coady said.
In all, the province is using water bombers -- two from Quebec, in addition to the province assisting with a bird dog aircraft -- and helicopters to fight the fires.
In a video posted to social media Saturday night, Furey described one blaze as the largest the province has seen since 1961. As of Sunday, the provincial government reported four active fires which covered about 10,800 hectares.
Jeff Motty, the Forestry Department's provincial duty officer, said the department hopes to change the fire status near Southern Lake Access Road, which started on July 31, before the end of the weekend.
"We are working really hard on it, we got a lot of resources," Motty said in an interview Sunday. "We probably won't extinguish it but we will take a good crack of it."
Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair tweeted he had approved Newfoundland's request for government assistance, and Canadian Armed Forces personnel would 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.
In a statement on Sunday, however, Newfoundland's government said Central Health will not undertake measures to evacuate the Dr. Hugh Twomey Health Care Centre at this time.
"Efforts will be supported to move those who require additional care so that they are not in the immediate vicinity of the smoke," the release said.
Alexandra Catherine, a resident of Grand Falls, said the thought of leaving her home and most of her possessions behind has been terrifying.
"We packed everything up last night, clothing and some personal items that can't be replaced," Catherine said in an interview on Facebook Messenger.
"I'm not taking any chance with two small children at home we will be leaving and heading west."
Vicktoria A. Prowse-Hunter, another Grand Falls resident, echoed Catherine's plan.
"I have my bags packed, ready to leave when we get the order to do so," Prowse-Hunter said in an interview on Facebook Messenger.
Prowse-Hunter said she was awakened by smoke the morning after the fire started.
"It was a warm night so I had all my windows open and I woke up at 7 a.m. coughing uncontrollably," she said. "Then I kind of knew that it was serious."
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.
It said in a statement the Canadian Red Cross relocated shelter services and resources from Grand Falls-Windsor to Deer Lake "for individuals who may be impacted by the state of emergency."
Meanwhile, Bragg pleaded for residents to be "fire smart."
The department said the outdoor fire ban, which was expanded provincewide on Sunday, prohibits the setting of fires on or within 300 metres of forestland.
"Last night I saw two people throwing cigarette butts and I thought that was absolutely crazy," Bragg said. "That is reckless and we do not need it."
"You can have your BBQ but do not, and I can't say that strong enough, if you are out in a wooded area, do not have any sort of open fire."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
After hammering Atlantic Canada, post-tropical storm Fiona has moved inland in southeastern Quebec, with Environment Canada saying the storm will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.
Strong winds and heavy rainfall from Fiona have left over 400,000 Maritimers without power, as of midnight Sunday.
Police in Newfoundland and Labrador say two people were swept out of residences that collapsed into the sea as post-tropical storm Fiona hit Saturday.
The town of Port aux Basques in Newfoundland is under a state of emergency as first responders cope with electrical fires, residential flooding, and washouts due to post-tropical storm Fiona.
Municipal roads are closed on Quebec's Magdalen Islands and residents are ordered to stay inside as the region battles the effects of Fiona.
Post-tropical storm Fiona walloped Atlantic Canada after making landfall early Saturday and storm chasers captured the incredible power as the storm roared ashore.
Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer says Pierre Poilievre's caucus will be supporting the Liberal government's bill to temporarily double the GST credit. In an interview on CTV's Question Period, Scheer said 'putting tax dollars back in the pockets of Canadians is something that Conservatives have always supported.'
Canada is credited for having one of the world’s most immigrant-friendly policies, but a CTVNews.ca analysis finds the criteria used to prioritize applicants based on age leaves many at a disadvantage.
'Enough is enough:' Will Brampton's municipal election be a referendum on the dysfunction that has plagued city hall?
Todd Letts believes that Brampton is perhaps “Ontario’s best asset” for future job growth thanks to a large tract of developable industrial land unmatched in the GTA and a highly educated workforce.
A motorcyclist is dead after a collision in the Toronto's Fairbank neighbourhood.
Pop music legends Alanis Morissette, Bryan Adams and David Foster will be officially inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Saturday.
A Calgary woman is calling a chance reunion with the man who delivered her "fate."
Alberta's police watchdog has been called in after a senior died following a physical confrontation with Mounties at a Sundre hospital.
The latest season of the hit TV show The Rookie launches Sunday with a former Calgarian front and centre.
Duhaime warns of 'distortion of the century' with widespread support not projected to result in election wins
Quebec Conservative Party Leader Eric Duhaime campaigned in his own Chauveau riding Saturday, urging residents to vote for him, or risk the “electoral distortion of the century.”
Advance polls will be held on Sunday and Monday, with polling stations open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Bags of food donations were picked up around the city over the day for the Edmonton Food Bank's (EFB) annual food drive, which comes as the demand for services reaches record highs.
A Fort Saskatchewan family is looking to create a new live music venue in their community – right in their backyard.
A police officer was injured while responding to a report of a man brandishing a knife at Edmonton International Airport Saturday.
Nearly 500 Shriners and their partners from across Ontario gathered in the Sault for the philanthropic organization's annual Fall Ceremonial.
Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre says the Near North District School Board has told the group they can't operate out of West Ferris Secondary School anymore.
Western University has returned Homecoming to its traditional late September time frame — the move comes after years of what has become FOCO, a fake Homecoming weekend launched by students and geared specifically to partying. Western officials are hoping to put the emphasis back on university pride.
As a shortage of healthcare workers continues to plague the province, the emergency department of Listowel Memorial Hospital finds itself the latest victim.
Two newly upgraded basketball courts in central London, Ont. were unveiled to the public Saturday morning in honour of the Afzaal family. “The project will provide lasting change and access to sport for London’s youth, and it demonstrates the power that sport has to bring people together,” said Mayor Ed Holder in a statement.
As a Winnipegger living in Halifax, Justin Cross says he didn't know what to expect as post-tropical storm Fiona pummelled Atlantic Canada.
A new twist on a scam targeting grandparents has Winnipeg police warning the public to be alert and trust their gut when answering the phone.
The family of retired politician Bill Blaikie has confirmed he has died after a battle with cancer.
The owner of the church that a Freedom Convoy-affiliated group has been occupying for weeks says he is pleased that a judge sided with him and ordered the group's eviction.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Here's how much you need to earn to afford a home in Ottawa
A new report from RateHub.ca shows that homebuyers will need to be making at least $129,980 to meet the requirements to obtain a mortgage for the average priced home in the capital, with a 20 per cent down payment.
Lutheran Church-Canada is investigating a Saskatchewan pastor following allegations that he used an anonymous Twitter account to harass a Saskatoon blogger
Buckland Fire and Rescue were called out to the Wahpeton Dakota Nation with reports that someone was stuck in a well Friday night and ended up saving a puppy.
Reality TV fans have a new opportunity to get their fix of business shows, as a new series features Indigenous businesspeople from across Canada.
The increase in street crime and random violence that's currently plaguing Vancouver is particularly noticeable in Chinatown.
Five people died of overdoses in nine hours in Kelowna on Saturday, according to local police.
The price of a litre of regular gasoline in Metro Vancouver is expected to rise again on Sunday by as much as 13 cents, a total that would bring the region close to its all-time high.
For the first time ever, Saskatchewan hosted the Women in Curling Summit. The one day event was held in Regina on Saturday and acted as an introduction to one of Canada’s premier winter activities.
A stolen vehicle was intercepted and two women were arrested by Regina police after an incident on Sept. 21.
After months of preparation, the 25th annual Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is officially underway.
Although he's the same age as Mick Jagger, and has worked in the music business for a similar length of time, there is one difference between between the Rolling Stones frontman and Bruce More.
A Victoria man convicted of drug dealing was not entrapped by police, according to a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling.