Newfoundland wildfires ran out of food, disrupted communities, deputy mayor says

The deputy mayor of a southern Newfoundland town has run out of food in his community as it remains cut off from the rest of the island due to the worst bushfires the state has experienced in more than 60 years. said.

Roy Drake said Monday that he expects three grocery stores in NL’s Harbor Breton to run out of food within a day or two. Drake said he owns one of them. In a town of about 1,600, he is the smallest of the three shops, and already there is not a jug of milk or a loaf of bread left on his shelves.

“Things are starting to get stressful for most residents,” Drake said in a telephone interview from City Hall. Not just for the region as a whole.”

Over the past two weeks, bushfires have forced authorities to intermittently close the main road across Newfoundland and a 200-kilometre remote route that connects the island’s Konenegur Peninsula with the harbor Breton, the Hermitage and the town of Kone. was forced to river. The last time the road was open was last Thursday morning, according to the Forestry Department’s regular Twitter updates.

The state has declared a state of emergency that extends from the Conenaigle Peninsula up the highway to the towns of Bishops Falls, Grand Falls-Windsor and Botwood, primarily due to smoke and air quality concerns. Officials said on Saturday that fires were still burning in remote areas and that the flames did not pose a danger to homes or residents.

In a video posted on social media Saturday night, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Fury described one of the largest fires seen in the state since 1961.

The Canadian Red Cross has set up emergency shelters for those stranded north of the fires in central Newfoundland, and the province of Quebec has dispatched firefighters and aircraft to help fight the blaze.

For those stranded south of the Connaigre Peninsula fires, the State Department of Transportation began bringing supplies to stranded communities and hired ferries to help people leave.

The ferry is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. Times will be tight, said Drake, who said the ferry would dock at the nearby town of Hermitage, which needs its own supplies and is still about 50 kilometers away from his community.

“I don’t know if the ferry will be able to accommodate what we need in terms of day one supplies,” he said, adding that he would focus on organizing how and when the needed supplies would arrive. his town.

Environment and climate change Canada’s warning readiness meteorologist David Neal said the fire was caused by a lightning strike on July 24 in the middle of an unusually warm and dry summer.

“This is a very unique situation,” he said, though he hesitated to tie it directly to the state’s changing climate.

Neal said about 10mm of precipitation is expected in the area on Tuesday.

“Not heavy rain,” he admitted. “But at least it should be of some help to those trying to contain the fire.”

Federal New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh issued a statement on Monday saying the fire is proof that Justin Trudeau’s liberals must do more to fight climate change.

Sarah Smelly

canadian press