Nfld. & Labrador

'Everyone feels helpless': Fire in Black Tickle stark reminder of lack of emergency service

People in the Labrador community could only watch as a fire destroyed a home Friday evening.

People in the Labrador community could only watch as a fire destroyed a home Friday evening.

Residents of Black Tickle have no way to fight fires like this one Friday evening. (Submitted)

People in Black Tickle, N.L., could only stand and watch as a fire destroyed a home on Friday evening.

The Labrador community has no fire service or equipment to help fight fires. All they can do is make sure everyone is OK and do their best to keep the fire from spreading.

In Friday's fire, a pet died. Residents escaped with minor injuries.

Esther Keefe, who was at the scene of Friday's fire, says the community plans to petition for money to get some basic firefighting tools.

"We're not asking for a fire department or anything like that," Keefe told CBC's Labrador Morning on Tuesday.

"We're just asking for just a like a pump and hose, so that when, god willing it never happens again, but if it does, you have something to be able to help the people instead of just standing back and watching everything that you own, everything that you hold dear to you is gone up in flames."

Standing there, watching the house burn was frustrating, said Keefe.

"Everyone feels helpless, just standing there and watching two people losing everything, everything that they owned," she said.

Lisa Dempster, MHA for Cartwright and L'Anse au Clair, says communities like Black Tickle with a limited tax base have some tough choices to make.

"It's very challenging to have all the necessary services. Sometimes it means prioritizing: are we going to go for good drinking water and apply for that in the community or are we going to make our fire services a priority?" she said.

"When they reach out to me and I understand more of what they're looking for, I'm committed to working with Black Tickle the same way I work with all of my communities."

Overwhelming support in isolated Labrador

After the fire, the community didn't take long to come together and support the family who lost everything," said Keefe.

"People were going around like spin-tops because you didn't know exactly what to do. A lot of people was trying to gather up a few things on the spur of the moment to be able to give to this couple … but the people did come together."

Sheldon Morris is from Black Tickle but now lives further up on the Labrador coast in Cartwright.

He and his wife, Charlene, have been fundraising for the couple who lost their home. People in isolated Labrador tend to rally together to help, he said.

"Smaller communities do tend to help out when there's people in need," he said. "We got people from all over trying to help, trying to get stuff for them. They're even supporting with clothes and other household items, which is great because with a situation like this you do need everything," he said.

"It just shows really what a tight-knit place Labrador really is. Everybody is just there for people."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador