'Mother Nature best one at putting out fires'

Bonnie Learning
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Heavy rainshowers help beat down Mud Lake area fire

Flames and smoke were clearly visible on the night of Aug. 13, as four fires — located eight kilometres from the village of Mud Lake — burned through the night and into late last week. Water bombers and ground crews were on the scene of those fires, as well as two 'hot spots' on Grand Lake Road near Happy Valley-Goose Bay last week. It is believed lightening was the cause of all the fires, but has yet to be determined.

UPDATE - THURSDAY, AUG. 21

A couple of days of heavy rainshowers has made a huge dent in firefighting efforts in the Mud Lake area.

The fire — which started out as four seperate fires last Tuesday, and eventually merged into one large fire covering approximately 8,800 hectares — has been beaten down over the last couple of days due to the rain.

"Mother Nature is better at putting out fires then we are!" quipped Boyd Pittmann, provincial fire duty officer with the Department of Natural Resources.

Pittman noted as of today, there are no crews on the ground, but they will be going in as soon as the low cloud cover lifts to re-scan and re-assess the fire area.

"There are no active flames, and there was no smoke visible earlier today," said Pittman. "There is no threat to property in the area."

EARLIER STORY - AUG. 19

It is still classified as 'out of control', but Basil English, provincial fire duty officer with the Department of Natural Resources, says ground crews are making 'excellent progress' on the blaze.

"Not much has changed from yesterday," he told The Labradorian at 9 a.m. this morning. "We have four ground crews working the south west corner of the fire, putting out hot spots, and they are making excellent progress."

English noted there are two water bombers on stand-by in case of flare ups, as well as two helicopters available for bucket drops if needed.

English also noted the fire grew slightly in size since yesterday — to 8,800 hectares — but said there is no danger to cabin or home owners in the vicinity.

EARLIER STORY - MONDAY, AUG. 18

The fires in the Graand Lake Road area are now officially out, but crews continue to battle the blaze in the Mud Lake area, Basil English, provincial fire duty officer with the Department of Natural Resources, told The Labradorian at 10:15 this morning.

"There were four active fires near Mud Lake, as of last week, but they merged, until they eventually became one fire over the weekend," he said.

"We now have ground crews at the Mud Lake area fires as of yesterday afternoon, and we have helicopters bucketing water when needed."

English noted the crews are working the south west boundry of the fire, closest to the community of Mud Lake.

"The boundry has basically remained unchanged since the weekend, and crews are putting out hot spots."

English said the fire still poses no threat to the community, and two water bombers are on stand-by in Goose Bay should they be needed in case of flare-ups.

English said the fire is still classified as 'out of control' as of today, but things have 'changed considerably' since late last week.

"We had a light rain yesterday, but it didn't actually reach the fire at Mud Lake," he said.

"However, there is more rain in the forecast for this week which, with the continued low winds, will help for sure."

EARLIER STORY - SUNDAY, AUG. 17

Although the rain in upper Lake Melville area hasn't reached the Mud Lake area fires as of 10 a.m. this morning, rain is expected in the area today — and that's good news, says Basil English, provincial fire duty officer with the Department of Natural Resources.

"The size of the fire (approximately 7,000 hectares) was basically unchanged overnight" he told The Labradorian just a few minutes ago.

"The lines of foam we laid down yesterday held, which helped it remain the same in size."

English said water bombers and ground grews will be deployed to the south west flank of the fire today, when the opportunity arises.

"The fire is not a menace to the community of Mud Lake," he said.

Grand Lake fires

English said the four fires that have been burning in the Grand Lake Road area, are 'looking promising' to be declared 'officially out' very soon.

"There has been no smoke reported from those fires, and with the rain in that area overnight, there is no threat in that area. It looks good."

More rain is expected in the Upper Lake Melville area up to and including Thursday.

 

EARLIER STORY - AUG. 16

The forest fires burning just eight kilomteres from the village of Mud Lake has increased to approximately 7,000 hectares in size — up from just over 5,000 hectares yesterday.

Basil English, provincial fire durty officer with the Department of Natural Resources, gave The Labradorian an update on the fires at 10:30 a.m. today. (Aug. 16).

"The larger of the two fires near Mud Lake has grown in size," he said. "Keep in mind, it can be difficult to measure the size of a fire when it is actively ongoing."

However, said English, the south east winds are still keeping it away from the community.

"These winds may blow smoke into Happy Valley-Goose Bay today, so people may see and smell smoke."

English said two water bombers are currently fighting the fires, with a third on hand at 5 Wing Goose Bay if needed.

"It's steady as she goes right now," he said.

English said the focus today will be for the water bombers to lay fire retardant foam on the area of the fire closest to Mud Lake.

"That way, if the wind direction should change, the foam should stop the fire from spreading to the community."

 

Grand Lake Fires

 

English noted the four fires burning in the Grand Lake Road area are not showing much activity today.

"But ground crews are still there, assesing the area for hot spots," he said. "There have been no change in the size of the fire, and everything is looking good.

 

EARLIER STORY - Aug. 15

Four fires that had been burning near the village of Mud Lake have since merged, making two active fires near the community.

“Three of those fires have merged, with the largest of the two located 7-8 kilometeres away from Mud Lake,” said Basil English, provincial fire duty officer for the Department of Natural Resources.

He said the largest fire — which is officially deemed out of control — has grown to over 5,000 hectares in size, a substantial increase since Tuesday.

“However, the current winds are blowing the fire away from the community, and we have a water bomber on the fire, at the western flank, which is closest to the community,” he said.

English notes the fires are being monitored very closely by department officials.

“Should the wind direction change or pick up in speed, the residents of Mud Lake will be informed,” he said.

 

Grand Lake Road fires

English said both water bombers are also working fires in the Grand Lake Road area, near Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“We had three fires there, with a fourth fire being detected yesterday afternoon.”

English said all fires, including the ones at Mud Lake and the newest one, were all likely started on Tuesday by lightening strikes.

“All of the fires in the Grand Lake Road area are relatively small; there is occasional open flame, but it’s mostly just smoke. But progress is being made on those.”

He added there are number of other ‘remote’ fires burning throughout central Labrador, but they are deemed ‘low risk.’

“They are fires in their natural environment, so there is no concern there,” he said.

 

bonnie.learning@tc.tc

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Mud Lake, Grand Lake Road, Happy Valley Goose Bay Labrador

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