Optional evacuation plan completed for residents of Grand Falls-Windsor

An optional evacuation plan has been put in place for residents of Grand Falls-Windsor as the wildfires in central Newfoundland remain uncontrollable. The biggest fear right now, according to officials, is that two large fires will coalesce into one and everything is being done to prevent that.

Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Barry Manuel says the city is in regular contact with state and federal officials as well as nearby municipalities, including Bishop’s Falls and Botwood, where a state of emergency is now in effect.

Grand Falls-Windsor offers residents who are concerned about the poor air quality caused by the fires and who want to leave the city the opportunity to leave.

This morning at 11 a.m., a bus departs for the Hodder Memorial Center in Deer Lake, where the county government evacuation center is located. Residents will be accommodated there until it is safe to return to Grand Falls-Windsor. Two pick-up points have been set up: one at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium and one at Windsor Stadium. People are requested to be present by 10:00

While none of the central communities are currently at risk from the flames, Manuel says the problem is smoke that can cause serious breathing problems. Communities as far away as Lewisporte and Twillingate have experienced the haze and smell of smoke from the fires.

He says they want residents to be alert because wind and weather are making the progress of the fire less predictable.

Water bombers from neighboring Quebec have arrived in the province to join the firefighting efforts in the center.

Meanwhile, the Beaver Brook Antimony Mine in Central Newfoundland has joined Nalcor officials creating a firebreak along the Nalcor transmission line route. The company has committed “every means possible” to the effort, starting at the Nor-west Gander River Road location and working toward Cooper’s Brook toward Grand Falls-Windsor.

The company commends the work of employee Brad Eastman, who volunteered to work all day Saturday night and Sunday to help build the firebreak, with special thanks to Matthew Johnson and local contractor Johnsons for volunteering in the same effort.

Beaver Brook operations manager Roland Mullett says the work should help protect nearby cabins and the communities of Glenwood, Appleton and Gander should the fire reach that area.

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