Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador forest fire crews hope wet weather provides relief from 5 active fires

The province is keeping tabs on five forest fires in the Big Land, and keeping an eye on the forecast.

2 waterbombers, 3 helicopters working on one fire near Goose Bay

Two waterbombers, similar to this one from a file photo, are working the forest fires at Sandy Island Lake near Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Submitted by Sonia Williams)

After a weekend battling some forest fires and keeping an eye on others, crews in Labrador are hoping wetter weather will bring relief in the battle against five fires burning in the region.

A fire at Sandy Island Lake, just outside Happy Valley-Goose Bay, is being actively contained by two water bombers, three helicopters and nine people. It grew from 25 hectares Friday evening to 101.7 hectares Monday morning.

"That one is still only 25 per cent contained, and most of the resources this morning is put on that fire," said Wes Morgan, the province's fire duty officer.

Two smaller fires are also burning near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, with one at Yetman's Brook remaining at six hectares throughout the weekend, and another at Edward's Brook growing from 0.3 hectares to 3.4 hectares by Monday. The Edward's Brook fire is close to the Trans-Labrador Highway, but Morgan said a speedy intervention has kept traffic moving.

"We had water bombers stationed on that fire, immediately," said Morgan, adding smoke was the major concern there.

"Smoke can cause congestion and headache and could result in road closures, but we're happy to report that due to our early attack on those fires, we're able to alleviate that concern."

Two fires were burning near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday afternoon, and five were reported across the Big Land by the next day. (Colleen Brown/Facebook)

Larger fires

Two much larger fires are burning in more remote parts of Labrador, one near Nipishish Lake measuring 388 hectares, and one near Rigolet in Double Mer measuring 373 hectares. Both are being monitored but no human intervention has been taken at this time, according to Morgan.

"If a fire occurs in that area, there is no real threat to cabins or residential areas," Morgan told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

"We monitor those fires and make sure they're not getting out of control; however, they are fairly large in size."

There's no sign of open flames at either of those fires, he said.

Thunderstorms moving through Labrador last Thursday are believed to be the culprit of all the current fires, as lightning strikes lit the dry landscape.

"The locations and timing of all these fires, it is highly suspected they had to do with lightning, which is not uncommon this time of the year," said Morgan.

The fire index was moderate to high throughout the weekend, dropping to low on Monday morning. The Big Land saw some rain overnight into Monday, and a low moving in on the region promised more precipitation and cooler weather.

A sixth fire in Labrador was burning near Eagle River on the weekend within the boundaries of Mealy Mountain National Park Reserve, Morgan said.

That's Parks Canada territory and a spokesperson said that fire has been extinguished.

There have been 43 forest fires so far this year for Newfoundland and Labrador, and Morgan says the provinces averages 132 fires per year.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning

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