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Paradise Lake forest fire a 'sleeping giant' as hot spots continue to burn

Thursday, August 18th 2022, 3:14 pm - Other Newfoundland fires are at least 30% contained, says duty officer.

The largest of three major forest fires in central Newfoundland has the potential to worsen if hot and dry conditions continue in the Grand Falls-Windsor region, says a provincial fire official.

Forest fire duty officer Mark Lawlor said Thursday the Paradise Lake forest fire is still considered out of control, as crews work to cut into the number of hot spots it contains.

"I'm going to venture and say we have thousands of hot spots on that fire. It's a huge fire, it's 17,000 hectares," Lawlor said.

"The scope and the scale of that fire is so large that it's going to take time for us to get enough people on the ground to take care of all those hot spots. The fire is still a bit of a sleeping giant. If we get hot, dry weather again, the fire is quite capable of getting up and going again."

CBC: Bay d'Espoir fire Crews continue to fight hot spots in the Bay d'Espoir Highway fire, which is 50 per cent contained. (Darrell Roberts/CBC)

Fires have been burning across the central region since a lightning storm on July 24. A state of emergency put in place by the provincial government was lifted Aug. 12, while a provincial fire ban was also lifted earlier this week.

Thirty-four firefighters, including firefighters from Nova Scotia, are on the ground to fight the Paradise Lake fire, Lawlor said.

Crews in the region are also fighting two other fires, one burning near the Bay d'Espoir Highway and one off Southern Lake, near Point Leamington.

The Bay d'Espoir Highway fire is 50 per cent contained, said Lawlor.

"Speaking with the operations people yesterday, their comfort level is growing every day with that fire," he said. "We have a good handle on that fire, and the Bay d'Espoir Highway should remain open barring any unforeseen circumstances."

WATCH: Newfoundland just saw its largest wildfire in six decades

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Lawlor said the Southern Lake fire has been harder to deal with. The fire is 283 hectares, according to Newfoundland and Labrador's Forestry Department.

"Where it's burning, it's up among a lot of cliffs and ledges, a difficult place for firefighters to get in. But that one is 30 per cent contained. We made good progress on it this week," Lawlor said.

Lawlor said conditions remain favourable with rain in the forecast, which could help crews get a better sense of where the remaining hot spots of the three fires are.

This article was originally published for CBC News. Contains files from The St. John's Morning Show.

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