For two days a fire smouldered and spread near Wakefield before anyone noticed it and called the fire department.
Around 5 a.m. on June 17, Styro Rail employees reported a brush fire in the Hundred Acre Wood near Morrison Heights across Hwy 105 from the styrofoam factory. No one was injured by the fire, no evacuations were ordered, and no structures were destroyed by the two-acre fire, La Pêche Fire Department Capt. Marco Renaud told The Low Down.
Renaud said that the fire started by a lightning strike during a storm on June 15. Lightning struck an old, tall pine tree and burned slowly through the core of the tree for two days before it reached its root system and spread across the ground, which was thick with a bed of dry pine needles.
The bed of pine needles further impeded firefighting efforts because the fire was able to smoulder and travel just under the surface of the needles, causing the fire to split and pop up in different areas of the forest, Renaud explained.
Flames licking up the tree that was struck by lightning could be seen as far away as Grant’s Garage on the afternoon of June 17. The thick plume of grey smoke could be seen from even farther away.
La Pêche fire crews worked with Société de protection des forêts contre le feu firefighters – who are always called to forest fires – to contain the fire on the afternoon of June 17, but they monitored it and eventually put it out the next day.
Renaud said the eight SOPFEU personnel took over the firefighting on June 18, but La Pêche continued to assist by making sure they had water to fight the fire. He said they use a 3,000 gallon portable pool to supply water in cases like this when there aren’t fire hydrants nearby.
The Hundred Acre Wood is the undeveloped land behind Jean Burger and Grant’s Garage in Wakefield. It’s at the centre of an ongoing community effort to buy and preserve the land for continued non-motorized recreational use.