New Brunswick

New Brunswick battles 2 more forest fires

Two new forest fires have broken out in New Brunswick in the northwestern village of Perth-Andover and in York County, respectively, bringing the total to at least five in the province in the past day.

New fires break out in Perth-Andover and York County as 2 other fires continue to burn

Harry Forestell talks with DNR Official Gail Duncan about the fire situation 4:34

Two new forest fires have broken out in New Brunswick, bringing the total to at least five in the province in the past day.

The latest fire was burning out of control in the York County area, west of Fredericton, as of approximately 8 p.m. AT Wednesday, according to provincial Department of Natural Resources officials.

The fire is along Pig Road, but the size of the blaze has not yet been mapped.

DNR ground crews and firefighters from several departments are fighting the fire with the help of DNR aircraft and a bucket helicopter.

Meanwhile, a fire that started in the northwestern village of Perth-Andover around 6 p.m. AT was also listed as "out of control" on the DNR website by about 8 p.m.

It is burning along a major power line on Gulch Road.

"It's probably progressed with the wind in a northerly direction two or three kilometres — and it's still burning," Perth-Andover Fire Chief Phillip Walker told CBC News at about 6:30 p.m. AT.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources "is attacking it from the air at this point. There's really nothing we can do from the ground," he said.

The forest fire near Petitcodiac destroyed at least two homes and a cottage and forced the evacuation of several other residences on Tuesday. (CBC)

Although the fire is only about 2½ kilometres from the village, homes are not considered to be at risk because it's on the other side of the St. John River, said Walker.

Some homes have been evacuated, however, due to the smoke, he said.

The Emergency Measures Organization is co-ordinating the area emergency action committee, officials said.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick firefighters have contained two fires that burned out of control for the past day and have extinguished a third, the province's Department of Natural Resources says.

The two contained fires are burning west of Moncton in the Petitcodiac area, and in the northern community of Kedgwick, respectively.

The third fire — the so-called Pond fire — was also west of Moncton in the Salisbury area, but it was out by Wednesday afternoon, said department spokeswoman Anne Bull.

DNR aircraft are scheduled to fly aerial detection patrols into the afternoon, she said.

The Petitcodiac-area fire left a path of destruction, burning about 140 hectares of forest. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

There are still some roadside hotspots at the first fire, located between Petitcodiac and Salisbury, said Bull.

Firefighters from Petitcodiac, Salisbury, Havelock, Penobsquis, Moncton, Dieppe, and Riverview remain on site, along with members of the RCMP and St. John Ambulance, she said.

About 25 to 30 per cent of the ground crew are being released, along with all of the tankers and engines, said Bull.

But a 22,700-litre water tender, which fills up relay tanks, and two helicopters remain at the scene.

There is also one team of airtankers at the Fredericton airport and a second team staged at Miramichi Airtanker Base, if needed, she said.

About 140 hectares of forest burned, said Bull. Initial reports suggested it was 500 hectares, but heavy smoke was obscuring the actual size of the fire, she said.

On Tuesday, the fire destroyed at least two homes and a cottage and forced the evacuation of several other residences, said Bull.

No one was injured, she said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

'Lost everything'

Twisted, melted metal is all that remains of two mobile homes on Middlesex Road. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

Kayla Riley lost her minihome in the blaze. She cried as she surveyed the damage on Wednesday.

She is "heartbroken," she said. "I lost everything that I ever had."

Riley's home and another minihome across the street both burned to the ground.

All that's left is twisted, melted metal.

"It's sad," said area resident Hope Colpitts-Selwah, 15. "I've grown up around here my whole life and just to see everything burning yesterday and the huge cloud of smoke, it was just kind of heartbreaking," she said.

Colpitts-Selwah had just returned home on Tuesday when she saw the flames approaching her family's home.

"It was probably the scariest thing I ever saw, with the huge flames and all of the smoke and everything," she said.

Her family was among those forced to leave their homes. They had five minute to get out.

It was a chaotic scene, said neighbour Roger Tingley.

Risk not over

Roger Tingley said the evacuation was chaotic, with only five minutes to get out. (CBC)

"Everybody was so distraught, we just didn't know what to think, or what we were doing, it went so fast," he said. 

Robert Palmer watched as fire jumped from tree to tree, coming dangerously close to his home. "You could see poof, poof, poof and then of course, so much smoke, you couldn't see," he said.

DNR spokeswoman Gail Duncan says homeowners should remain on alert. A fire isn't considered out until no smoke is seen for three days, or there is a substantial rainfall.

"I'm not aware of a risk right now, but that could change for sure if the weather changes," said Duncan. "Again, you never want to let your guard down until you're told it's OK."

Charles Beaulieu, an officer with the Department of Natural Resources, said 110 firefighters were battling the blaze on Wednesday morning with the help of seven fire trucks, six bulldozers and a couple of helicopters.

They were "working on a couple of spot fires that jumped outside the perimeter of the fire yesterday," said Beaulieu.

"Overnight, with the lower temperatures and the higher humidity and no wind, they were able to work on the fire. They had six bulldozers work on the fire all night and put a perimeter around it."

Earlier in the day, David Bannister, the volunteer fire chief in Salisbury, said fire crews were hoping to take advantage of improving weather conditions to contain the fire.

"At this time, there's no homes being threatened by the fire, which makes it a little easier; you can concentrate on the head of the fire and get it knocked down," Bannister told CBC News.

"Yesterday, it was pretty hectic, because there were so many homes threatened. We were running from one spot to another just trying to protect homes."

DNR aircraft, JDI aircraft and a large water bomber from Quebec helped fight the fire on Tuesday.

Kedgwick fire 'a very scary moment'

Firefighters continue to battle forest fires around Petitcodiac and Kedgwick on Wednesday. (CBC)

In Kedgwick, meanwhile, about 75 hectares of forest burned.

There is a bulldozed break around the fire, but about 50 firefighters from several local departments continue with suppression efforts, according to DNR officials.

Six bulldozers and other equipment are on scene and a team of airtankers is at the Miramichi airport in case they are needed, said Bull.

On Tuesday, an airtanker group of of Miramichi, two J.D. Irving airtankers from Juniper and a large water bomber from Quebec helped fight the fire, she said.

Officials have allowed people to return to about 40 homes, which had been evacuated on Tuesday.

The residents have been advised to be ready to leave their homes on short notice, should conditions change.

Linda Carpentier, a restaurant owner in Kedgwick, said she saw the fire quickly grow in her northern community.

"It was a thousand feet away from the house, so it was not far. With the winds and everything, it was a very scary moment."

The restaurant owner said fire crews did a good job of battling the blaze.

"They worked all night to control it, and this morning, I had a fireman come into the restaurant and they said it was controlled but it is sleeping, it can wake up at any time," Carpentier said.

The two schools in the community are closed today.

Fires reported earlier in the Lorne and Richibucto areas are now under control.

Beaulieu said it's less than a month into the fire season, and firefighters have already been called to about 300 fires in the province.

He said that's three times the number the province would normally see by this time of the year.