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Crews from across the Annapolis Valley battle Seven Mile Lake blaze from ground and air

August 10 2016

Kings County Register

Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL -

It’s been a long week for Annapolis Royal Firefighters as they battled a stubborn and growing forest fire at Seven Mile Lake off Highway 8. But on Aug. 9, they got some rest, said Chief Malcolm Francis. For the first day since last Thursday evening, when they spotted the fire, Annapolis Royal had no equipment or crews at the scene of the blaze that had ripped through more than 140 hectares of woods by mid-afternoon Aug. 8.

“This is kind of a day of rest for my people. But I expect we’ll be back on the scene tomorrow,” he said.

It grew larger overnight, the province says.

"The fire at Seven Mile Lake, Annapolis County, is still not contained and has grown to about 240 hectares," the province said in an update at 11 a.m. Aug. 9. "Equipment being used includes nine fire trucks, six pieces of heavy equipment, two helicopters and four water bombers. Two more water bombers from Quebec will arrive today."

And Highway 8 near Maitland Bridge remains closed because of water bombing activities in the area.

Seven Mile Lake isn’t their only concern. Annapolis Royal and departments from as far away as Nictaux were called out mid-evening Monday because of a grass fire on the edge of Highway 101 about two kilometres east of Exit 22 in Lequille. Firefighters got that out and were then called by DNR to a possible fire in the Crotchet Lake area. That’s east of Highway 8 at Graywood.

“We didn’t find anything,” Chief Francis said.

Other volunteer fire departments from across Annapolis County have been standing side by side with the Annapolis Royal firefighters – Port Lorne, Bridgetown, Lawrencetown, Bear River. Digby firefighters have been filling water bombers. And if a department wasn’t at one of the forest fires, they had a truck standing by in somebody else’s hall to cover that community.

All told, crews from departments in Annapolis, Queens, Kings, Lunenburg, Shelburne, and Digby counties have been working in various roles on the fire.

Far From Over

It’s far from over yet. The fire was still growing.

The Seven Mile Lake fire covers a vast area, but to get an idea of exactly where it is, if you were at Milford House on Highway 8, the first signs of the fire begin on the left side of the road about 11 kilometres past there. And only five or six kilometres past Milford House at View Lake is where firefighters have been filling tanker trucks.

Read more special articles:
'Non-stop' demand for water, says Yarmouth County water hauler
Dry weather expected 'for at least another few days'
'Run ragged': Annapolis Royal firefighters still battling Seven Mile Lake wildfire
Nova Scotia imposes travel ban to keep people out of woods as wildfires burn

A smaller fire near Maitland Bridge was contained on the weekend and another in Greenfield was under control.

The province’s Nova Scotia Fire website said Aug. 8 that ground crews were taken off the Seven Mile Lake fire but air support continued to work on it. Aircraft were being filled at Digby airport or the big planes were scooping water right out of Lake Kedge. And Highway 8 remained closed overnight because of heavy smoke.

Francis said the ground crews were pulled out late in the day due to poor weather conditions trying to fight it with the high winds.

Backcountry Closure

Out past Seven Mile Lake at Kejimkujik National Park, the backcountry has been closed until further notice, said Parks Canada on Aug. 9.

“This closure is in support of Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources travel restrictions to reduce the risk of wildfires across Nova Scotia,” Parks Canada said. “There are two wildfires north-east of the park, in the Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake areas.”

Annapolis County has closed all of its trails except those at Jubilee Park in Bridgetown, Hebb’s Landing in Upper Granville, and at Raven Haven at Sandy Bottom Lake.

“It’s something that should have happened early last week,”  Francis said of the travel ban the province put in place Aug. 8. “When the index gets up to very high and into extreme it’s something that should be put in play when those index levels get that high. You shouldn’t have to wait until it becomes something like we have now.”

While the Seven Mile Lake fire raged over the weekend and into this week, residents in the Annapolis Royal area have been following the news on media sites and social media. Sunken Dorey Pizza kicked off a campaign Aug. 5 and dropped off five extra large pizzas at the hall. Since then, people have been bringing water, Gator Aid, sandwiches, sweets, pizzas.

“It’s been unbelievable really, the support from the public,” said Francis.

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