New Brunswick

Miscou Island forest fire forces evacuation of 25 homes

The fire, which started Saturday night, is still considered out of control and not contained.

No homes have been damaged

Smoke from the fire could be seen billowing from the island. (Héloïse Bargain/Radio-Canada)

Twenty-five homes have been evacuated because of a forest fire on Miscou Island, a small island that is part of the Acadian Peninsula, on the northeastern tip of the province.

Roger Collet, the provincial fire prevention officer, said the fire started around 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

"It appears to have started somewhere near a shed or garage possibly that burnt and got into the woods," said Collet.

Francois Beaudin was one of the last people who was asked to evacuate his home at around 7:30 Saturday night. 

He thinks it will be at least a few days before he can return to his home, but he was positive about the situation.

"You don't get hurt. Things we can always get back, as long as the human side of it, there's nobody got hurt," he said.

Water bombers called in

Roland Roy, who works for the Department of Natural Resources, said on Sunday approximately 30 department employees are part of the effort to stop the fire.

"With tankers, pumps and of course our bombers, the fleet of bombers that were in last night, this morning and they were still called upon this afternoon," he said. 

Roy said that there are also approximately 25 firefighters and the Miscou Fire Brigade on the scene, trying to prevent damage to the evacuated homes.

"No houses were burnt, it came close but we have to credit the fire departments for that, their mandate is to protect the homes, and they did a fantastic job."

The homes that were evacuated were in the area of Wilson's Point. The road to the area is closed to traffic and NB Power has cut off power to the evacuated houses as a precaution.

Beaudin said he was impressed by the efforts of the crews battling the fire, and the fact that they managed to prevent any damage to his house, which is close to the woods on the island. 

'Lucky to be Canadian'

"I guess we got help from Lameque, Shippigan and I just take my hat off to them folks. Because if we wouldn't have got their help, it was no chance...everything would be ashes," he said.

Beaudin said he "was never so proud to be a Canadian" as he was on Saturday.

"You have water bombers, you have firemen, you have the forest ranger. Within hours."

"We're just downright lucky to be Canadian."

Families displaced by the fire found accommodations at a local hotel and campground. A command centre for emergency personnel has been set up in front of the Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue Church on the island.

Weather concerns

Roy didn't expect residents would be allowed home on Sunday. 

He also said that weather conditions are "the real driver on this."

"It'll decide a lot of our manoeuvres. If the wind changes and gives us a hard time, we always have to re-evaluate," Roy said.

"The weather today is hot and breezy and we may have a wind change," he said. "That's all something we have to keep an eye for the security of our manpower."

The entire province is under a no burn order as of 1:35 p.m. Sunday. 

With files from Francois Vigneault & Radio-Canada & Gabrielle Fahmy