NEWS

Innu elders warned as crews tackle Labrador fires

06/14/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 08/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Officials prepared Thursday to move older and ailing residents out of the Innu community of Sheshatshiu in central Labrador, as smoke from a nearby fire has made it hard for some to breathe.

While it's not a formal evacuation, officials want to get people away from thick smoke hanging over the area.

"Some people have health reasons, like a hard time breathing, or people have asthma, or elders or the sick," said Greg Patishi of the Sheshatshiu band council.

"Those are the people we're a little bit concerned about right now."

Crews have managed to keep two forest fires in the area under control, although yet another day of hot and dry weather — the latest in a spell that started a month ago — has brought anxious moments for authorities.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay has had some of the hottest temperatures in Canada this week.

"Right now, crews are stretched to the max," CBC News reporter Peter Cowan said.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government warned residents of Sheshatshiu as well as nearby North West River to prepare for a possible evacuation. Officials said the fire by Thursday was burning about 30 kilometres north of the communities.

Firefighters have already been exhausted tackling a blaze late into Wednesday night in the Robert's Road area of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

A separate fire, closer to the Trans-Labrador Highway, has also demanded attention from fire crews.

In North West River, volunteers assembled to help build a firebreak that could help keep the blaze from reaching the community.

Waterbombers remained on standby on Thursday, but will be deployed if necessary.

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