October 28, 2017 ~ The Harry’s Harbour/Jackson’s Cove Volunteer Fire Department is so new that they don’t even yet have protective suits yet. That didn’t stop four of its members from moving quickly to extinguish a surface fire on Thursday in a patch of woods inside Harry’s Harbour.
Members of the Fire Department noticed smoke coming out of the bush off the main road, across from the Canada Post Community Mailboxes. Minutes later four members were on scene with a water stream on the fire. They were Gail Budgell, David Gillard, Dean King and Bud Budgell. (Bud is pictured above. Photo credit: Gail Budgell) They were joined by Eric Sharp of the Local Service District.
Despite what would seem to be prime fire fuel – dry cut brush and trees along the hydro line – the fire kept to a linear left/right movement. Gail indicated they managed to put the fire out just as they were running out of water and just as the flames were starting to move up the trees.
Their success came despite the fact that they had virtually nothing in the way of firefighting tools. Gail Budgell said, “We had to put the fire out.”
“You have to do what you have to do,” she added.
Gail explained how they brought a mobile water pumper to the scene in the back of a pickup, set it up, climbed down the rough slope and set to work. “We used 500 gallons of water on it and this morning, when we were up here, it was still smouldering in spots.”
In 2013 a fire in nearby Nicky’s Nose Cove that got out of control destroyed two houses and damaged another. A water bomber had to be brought in.
Gail expressed she thought the situation in Harry’s Harbour could have been a lot worse. Gail said the fire was spreading both to the left and right. There is a recreational trailer parked to one side of the burned area, and on the other side of that trailer there is a house.
On the left side of the Harry’s Harbour fire area is a hydro pole.
Hydro lines run basically above where the fire was.
That the fire was creeping so near the utility pole is of concern to Gail. She speculated that, had the pole burned, electricity to the community might have been knocked out. “This is the main line coming into the community. So, we would have had no hydro for who knows how long.”
Such was the case in Manitoba this past August when forest fire damage to a hydro pole cut power to 300 people.
The site of the fire was inside the community of Harry’s Harbour, down a slope. (The area is to the right in the photo below.)
The Harry’s Harbour/Jackson’s Cove Volunteer Fire Department will serve five small communities. Harry’s Harbour is a Local Service District, as is Jackson’s Cove-Langdon’s Cove-Silverdale. The combined population of the area, including Nicky’s Nose Cove, comes in at about 200 people.
That is a small base on which to finance a fire department.
The Fire Department there is just getting started, in every sense of the phrase. Fire Department members will start some very ambitious fundraising efforts soon, so they can finance the gear and protective clothing and everything else that will be needed – which is everything.
Gail said, “We need money IN A HURRY.”
There is no fire truck. There is nowhere yet to park a truck even if they had one. They lack even proper footwear.
But they certainly do have an admirable level of initiative. A recruitment night was recently held, bringing the number of members to 15 — a very respectable response out of 200 people. This weekend 8 of the 15 will take the time to do the Defensive Firefighting training course.
The need in that area for organized fire protection is highlighted by the fact that they have already had to fight their first fire.
Gail said NL Hydro, the RCMP and Forestry have been notified about the fire.
There is no official word yet on how the fire started.