Air quality deteriorates in Wabush
Smoke from continuing forest fires causing declining air quality; 911 service still out
Exposure to particle matter in Wabush on Friday was three times the amount on evacuation day last week, according to information from the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Results from one monitoring station set up in the town of Wabush showed readings for particulate matter 2.5 microns and smaller — defined as fine particles made up of dust and smoke — were measured between 20-35 micrograms per cubic metre on the day of evacuation.
On Friday, readings reached between 100-160 micrograms per cubic metre.
In the release, it said the Department of Health and Community Services bases its recommendation for evacuation on "existing guidelines used in other jurisdictions that state that evacuation of vulnerable populations should be considered when exposure to particulate matter is between 250-500 micrograms per cubic metre."
The state of emergency for Wabush was ordered by the town on the recommendation of the Ministry of Natural Resources because of air quality concerns. Both the Department of Natural Resources and Wabush said that forecasted winds would have pushed smoke from the fire into the town overnight, with flames burning just four kilometres away.
Labrador Grenfell Health issued an advisory for the area, suggesting people stay indoors, keep hydrated and avoid physical activity while outside.
Government agencies continue to monitor smoke coming into western Labrador from forest fires burning in Quebec.
The fires, which started last month, have spread across more than 350,000 hectares of land in northern Quebec.
Phone services still out
Bell Aliant said lines east of Labrador City that were damaged on Friday due to the fires are still out, and some services are still down for residents.
A spokesperson said there was no change overnight, but conditions in the area have improved and technicians may be able to get repairs done on Saturday.
Residents in Labrador City can call within their community on landlines, but cannot reach other communities or long distance numbers.
911 phone services are unavailable for residents, as is some cell phone service. RNC advise residents to call 709-944-7602 to get in contact with police, if needed.
In case of an emergency only, cell phone users can call 709-280-9011 or 709-280-2841.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay still has no internet service, and digital cell service is down. Internet is also out on the north coast.
Traffic escorts resume
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary started escorting vehicles along Route 500 of the Trans-Labrador Highway again late Saturday morning.
Checkpoints remain in place near Labrador City and Wabush extending to Ashuanipi.
The RNC added motorists should expect delays and make travel arrangements accordingly, and advise that there is limited availability in Churchill Falls.
Quebec Route 389, which leads into Labrador City via Baie Comeau and Fermont, is also closed down due to forest fires in that province.