PEI

Woman thanks 'fantastic community' of Murray River for saving her home from forest fire

As a forest fire spread quickly toward her home in Murray River on Friday, Bethany McCarthy raced inside and grabbed everything she could out of the safe and china cabinet, as well as a few “sentimental” items for her 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.

Firefighters keeping eye on hot spots from fire that spanned 3 hectares

Firefighters and crews from the provincial Forests, Fish and Wildlife division were on-site working to extinguish hot spots all weekend until Sunday evening. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

As a forest fire spread quickly toward her home in Murray River on Friday, Bethany McCarthy raced inside and grabbed everything she could out of the safe and china cabinet, as well as a few "sentimental" items for her 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.

She couldn't find the cat. It later turned up safe and sound.

Firefighters were hosing her house down while she was still inside, she said.

"The way the wind was blowing, everything was blowing straight to my house. It was crazy, the sky was still blue but like all through here everything was just yellow."

Bethany McCarthy was able to get a few valuables out of the house before going to a campground to wait out the fire. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

With ashes from the burning trees swirling around them, a firefighter she knows gave her a hug and said, "We're going to do everything we can to save your house."

It was crazy, the sky was still blue but like all through here everything was just yellow.— Bethany McCarthy

About eight hours later, about 70 firefighters from Murray River, Murray Harbour, Montague, Belfast, Cardigan and Vernon River had the fire contained and managed to prevent any physical damage to McCarthy's and the other homes along Point Pleasant Road.

Robert MacLeod, assistant deputy chief of the Murray River Fire Department, said members of the community rallied together to help as well, setting up road blocks, clearing areas with four-wheelers, and bringing food to the firefighters throughout the night.

It took about 70 firefighters from six departments more than eight hours to contain the fire on Friday. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

"There was a lot of effort from everybody around," he said. "It was unbelievable. We fed all 70 firemen and there was still food left over."

Fire trucks were filling up every 10 minutes with water from Point Pleasant dam and Murray River dam, MacLeod said.

'A lot of water'

"It took a lot of water and a lot of effort but we got it quick and got it away from the houses which was our main concern."

On Monday, fire officials continued to monitor the area for hot spots. The fire spanned about three hectares, according to the province's Forests, Fish and Wildlife division.

Robert MacLeod, assistant deputy chief of the Murray River Fire Department, says the community came together to help battle the fire and provide food for the firefighters. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

McCarthy waited out the fire at a campground. She said people were texting Friday to tell her her house was still OK, and asking about her cat. She said she is thankful to the firefighters and community.

"It's a fantastic community," she said. "It was 30 degrees without the fire on Friday afternoon. They set up in my driveway and they fought the fire from my driveway just to make sure that that fire didn't hit my house."

Smoke rises from the woods near Murray River on Friday. (Jada Graham)

P.E.I. remains under a heat warning, and the province is urging the public to take caution with the fire index at extreme and very high.

All domestic and industrial burning permits are suspended until conditions improve. Small campfires for recreational purposes are still permitted. However, the province said anyone who has a campfire on their own property could be responsible for costs if the fire department needs to respond.

"We haven't seen a forest fire in a lot of years and hope we don't see one again in a lot of years," MacLeod said.

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With files from Stephanie vanKampen

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