Nova Scotia

Fire chief says 'it broke my heart ' to watch mother duck try to save scorched eggs

A heartbreaking discovery after a deliberately set brush fire in Cape Breton has one fire chief speaking out.

'It's a long time since a tear came down my cheek at a fire scene'

Scorch marks are visible on this clutch of duck eggs destroyed in a deliberately set fire in Reserve Mines, Cape Breton. (CBC)

The chief of the Glace Bay Volunteer Fire Department says he felt heartbroken upon finding a duck's nest destroyed after another deliberately set grass fire in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

"It's a long time since a tear came down my cheek at a fire scene and yesterday was one of those times I'll remember for the rest of my career," said John Chant. 

Monday evening, Chant and his crew were dispatched to Reserve Mines, N.S., for a brush fire near Wilson Road.

"As we were cleaning up and mopping up, my assistant deputy came to me and requested I go look at a nest inside the burn area — that there were some eggs and a duck flying around," he said.

John Chant, chief of the Glace Bay Volunteer Fire Department, says it broke his heart to see a mother duck picking through the charred remains of her nest. (CBC)

There were 10-12 eggs in the nest with scorch marks from the fire.

"As we slowly stepped away from the nest a duck appeared and starts moving the eggs individually out, roughly 12 inches from the nest, and just examining each egg with so much care just looking for any signs of life in that egg and it just broke my heart," said Chant.

"I know people just think it's just a duck and some eggs — I've been here for 24 years and it's probably the most emotional I've seen and I've seen a lot of stuff here." 

There have been numerous instances of arson and deliberately set brush fires in the CBRM over the last few years. 

"We try our best to show people the dangers of these needless fires and all of a sudden it hits home," said Chant. 

"I don't know what it takes to get these fires to stop." 

Chief wants people to think twice about setting fires

Chant's post has more than 7,200 shares on Facebook and he said he hopes this story will make people think twice before lighting a fire. 

Jeff MacNeil, with the Port Morien Wildlife Association, said senseless grass fires threaten animals and everyone nearby.

"[It] took an animal's life or numerous animals lives in this case again. It very well could've been human life and some people just don't, I guess, take things serious enough," he said.

 "It's needless death and destruction as far as I'm concerned." 

With files from Gary Mansfield