Fire erupts near Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Western Labrador fire has now grown to 27,000 hectares
A fire erupted on Saturday afternoon in central Labrador near Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Three helicopters, a water bomber and a small ground crew were sent to fight the four-to-five hectare blaze, which is located approximately ten kilometres from the community.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but is under investigation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources gave a briefing in Wabush on Sunday morning regarding the forest fire situation in western Labrador.
Officials said the fire has now grown to 27,000 hectares — 10,000 of which is in Labrador.
There is very little smoke reported in the area and visibility has improved.
Ground crews have been sent to battle the hotspots throughout the fire area, along with helicopters equipped with buckets.
Rainfall in the area Friday night reached between five and ten millimetres.
The fire has burned up 170 square kilometres in the two weeks it has been burning.
Police escorting travellers
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary continues to escort vehicles through the Trans-Labrador Highway.
Police have received assistance from Labrador Ground Search and Rescue volunteers to escort drivers when it is safe.
The checkpoint remains in place on Route 500 near Labrador City and Wabush and extends along the highway to Ashuanipi.
RNC advises motorists to expect delays while travelling, and that accommodations are limited in Churchill Falls.
Travellers can call 709-944-5812 for updates on road conditions from their cell phone.
911 service still out
While 911 service is still not operational in Labrador City and Wabush, Bell Aliant said some progress has been made to restore other phone services to parts of Labrador.
Cell phone service in Happy Valley-Goose Bay has been returned, and crews were able to re-route to the east and down through the island on Saturday.
Work continues on the main cable break east of Labrador City and crews are expected back on Sunday to continue.
In case of an emergency, residents in western Labrador can reach the RNC at 709-944-7602. Those with a cell phone can reach the RNC at 709-280-9011.
Haze, smoke far reaching
Smoke has been affecting the air quality as far east as St. John's.
A special air quality statement was issued on Saturday and skies have been hazy and the air has the smell of smoke.
Todd Bates, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said things are expected to clear up late Sunday afternoon.
"In the special air quality statement we have out right now, we're saying that conditions are expected to improve later this afternoon and evening with the passage of a cold front bringing some showers and shifting the winds to a more northerly flow," Bates said.
Bates said that until the special advisory is lifted, people with breathing or heart problems should limit strenuous outdoor activity.