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Forest fires rage in the Bocabec area on May 28, 2023. Image: Submitted/Scott Legge

UPDATE: Crews making progress on Saint Andrews-area fire

By Brad Perry May 29, 2023 | 3:57 PM

Officials say an ATV fire sparked a massive forest fire that has forced hundreds from their homes near Saint Andrews.

Fire Chief Kevin Theriault said they were called to a report of an ATV fire off South Glenelg Road in Chamcook around 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Upon arrival, crews found the ATV on fire with fire extending into the woods,” Theriault said during a Monday afternoon news conference.

“With the wind we had and the dry conditions and the hot temperatures, the fire travelled too fast to be controlled and we ended up with the situation we’re in now with a major forest fire on our hands.”

The ‘Stein Lake’ fire stands at around 250 hectares (617 acres) in size and was still listed as ‘out of control’ as of Monday afternoon, according to the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development.

About 13 fire departments are on the scene from as far away as Oromocto, Theriault told reporters. Seven waterbombers have also been flying continuously since 9 a.m. Monday.

Theriault said the strong winds on Sunday caused the fire to jump Route 127 in two or three different locations.

“One of the spots is on top of a knoll and it’s hard to access,” he said.

The fire chief said they hope to have the fire under control later in the day Monday or on Tuesday, but added it will be a long fight to put out all of the hotspots.

Firefighters gather in Saint Andrews on May 29, 2023, before heading back out to fight forest fires in the Bocabec and Chamcook areas. Image: Facebook/Brad Henderson

Theriault said between 250 and 300 homes in the Bocabec and Chamcook areas were evacuated on Sunday, and one home has been destroyed.

He said the evacuation area extends along Route 127 between Route 1 and South Glenelg Road, including several side roads.

As for when evacuated residents will be allowed to return home, Theriault said they plan to reassess the situation on Tuesday.

Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson urged people to stay out of the evacuated area until they have been given the all-clear to return.

“Not only are you putting yourself in danger but you are also putting emergency response team members in danger,” said Henderson.

As of mid-afternoon Monday, 160 people from 67 households have evacuated and registered with the Canadian Red Cross.

Anyone who has not registered is asked to do so at the W.C. O’Neill Arena in Saint Andrews, which is serving as a reception centre, to ensure help can be offered to them.

Henderson said they found a place to stay for everyone on Sunday night, though one person opted to spend the night at the arena complex.

“There are so many hotels, motels, inns, Airbnbs that have opened up their doors, as well as people knowing other people in the area,” he said, adding the reception centre will stay open as long as needed.

Area residents also came together to assist those with livestock, offering their help with transporting animals to safe locations. There were numerous posts from stables and others with barns offering their help.

The support has been overwhelming from neighboring communities. This is a regional fire response with collaboration from…

Posted by Brad Henderson – Mayor, Town of Saint Andrews on Monday, May 29, 2023

The fire in the Saint Andrews area is not the only one burning in the province currently.

Around a dozen active fires were reported by Natural Resources and Energy Development as of 3:30 p.m. Monday.

The fire in the Bocabec and Chamcook areas were the only ones still listed as out of control.

Officials said a 40-hectare (99-acre) blaze currently burning in the Belleisle area is now considered contained, along with a 25-hectare (62-acre) fire in the Fredericton Junction area.

Another fire on Post Road near Minto is now listed as under control. It is about 10 hectares (25 acres) in size.

All of New Brunswick is currently under a burn ban until at least 2 p.m. Tuesday.

So far this year, there have been 152 forest fires which have burned more than 546 hectares of land.

The 10-year average for this time of year is 154 fires and 284 hectares of forested area burned. Last year at this time, 135 fires had burned 121 hectares of forested area.

With files from Tara Clow

I do not always have my good camera with my on weekends coming back from Moncton, this weekend I did. Bocabec/St.Andrews…

Posted by Scott Legge on Sunday, May 28, 2023

It’s been a very long afternoon and evening, but at least I get to sleep in my own bed tonight. So many others…

Posted by Kathy Bockus MLA for Saint Croix on Sunday, May 28, 2023

 

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