Crews fighting two active fires near Terra Nova, Benoit’s Siding

One of two active fires on the island is burning at Terra Nova. The fire was first reported just before 3:00 p.m. Saturday (David Newell/CBC)

There are two forest fires burning on the island, one in central and one on the province’s west coast.

A fire near Benoit’s Siding, near South Branch, grew significantly overnight from 80 hectares to about 90 hectares this morning.

A water bomber is expected on the scene this morning, along with about a dozen fire fighters.

The fire is not threatening any homes at this time, and is moving inland, however, crews are protecting power lines. Winds are said to be light, and humidity is in the favour of firefighters, but crews are monitoring the smoke direction because it could impact the highway.

“Smoke has been causing issues for our crews this morning,”  said provincial forest fire duty officer, Jeff Motty.

“They haven’t been able to get in there as much as they would have liked, so once the water bombers get in there and they start actively dropping water or foam on the fire…our crews will get in on sight and starting actioning the fire better.”

Motty and the Port aux Basque RCMP are warning people to refrain from stopping to take photos and video of the fire.  They say doing so could create a hazard on the road for other dirvers and first responders.

“You’re going to cause congestion, possibly an accident,” he said.

Another forest fire, about 6.25 hectares in size, was reported near the community of Terra Nova just before 3 p.m. Saturday.

The community of Terra Nova is approximately eight kilometres away from the fire according to Motty, with some cabins as close as three to four kilometres away. However, Motty said no homes are threatened by the fire at this time.

Motty says they dispatched two water bombers, a helicopter, and forestry crews Saturday. As of 7:40 Sunday morning, he said a helicopter was on the scene, along with six fire fighters, who will be on scene today.

“The crews are currently working to get a hose around the entire perimeter of the fire, and there’s still lots of hot spots that are being actioned throughout the centre of the fire and near the perimeter of the fire,” he said.

As of Sunday morning, Motty said about 15 per cent of the Terra Nova fire has been contained, and crews will work to increase containment throughout the day.

Motty says winds are light, but it has been a dry and hot summer. The cause for the fire is unknown at this time, but will be investigated. 

He says people should not light fires if the forest fire indexes are at very high or extreme.

“Everyone should be aware of how easy the forest can ignite.”

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