2 wildfires burning out of control near Labrador West

Fires aren't near populated areas, but one sits close to N.L. Hydro dam

Two out of control wildfires are burning north of Labrador West, one only a short distance away from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's Menihek dam.

The fire near the dam — which goes between Labrador West and Schefferville, Que. — began Sunday, according to Newfoundland and Labrador's new active wildfire dashboard.

The fire is four kilometres from the dam's hydroelectric generating station, said provincial fire duty officer Laurie Holloway on Tuesday. One water tanker is already on the scene and a request for a second one has been made, she said.

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"It was estimated in size yesterday at about 300 hectares. It's currently active as a fire there now, so it's most likely gone above that," Holloway told CBC News shortly after 4 p.m. NT.

Holloway said the fire is impeding a railway that runs through Labrador West and into Schefferville, Que.

Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, which operates a passenger train from Sept-Îles to Schefferville, announced it will be suspending the route for one week.

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Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said he's spoken to Hydro employees, who told him there aren't concerns about having to evacuate the dam just yet.

"They are keeping an eye on it.… [There's] a lot of smoke and that," he said.

CBC: The two fires are burning out of control north of Labrador West. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

The two fires are burning out of control north of Labrador West. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

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An emailed statement from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said the fire is currently considered a low risk and officials are monitoring the situation.

The other fire is in an isolated area known as Milner Lake West, about 100 kilometres north of Labrador City. That fire is one hectare, according to the dashboard.

"There's no value at risk," Holloway said.

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Brown said the fires could have been caused by lightning strikes. He said there were close to 100 lightning strikes in Labrador over the past week.

The Menihek fire has prompted a full fire response, which is "an immediate, aggressive attack and sustained suppression measures," according to the dashboard.

The Milner Lake West fire has prompted a moderate response, which involves "minimizing the impacts to society and natural resources."

Thumbnail image courtesy of Bruce Mactavish.

This article was originally published for CBC News.