July 17th, 2024

Wildfire in Labrador jumps Churchill River, generating station being evacuated

By The Canadian Press on June 25, 2024.

Premier Andrew Furey holds a press conference in St. John's on Wednesday March 20, 2024. The wildfire in Labrador threatening the evacuated town of Churchill Falls jumped over the Churchill River earlier today, increasing the risk to the skeleton crew operating the town's massive hydroelectric generating station. Furey made the announcement during a news conference in St. John's, saying there was a heightened level of risk to the plant and the town. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

CHURCHILL FALLS, N.L. – The wildfire in Labrador threatening the evacuated town of Churchill Falls has jumped the Churchill River, prompting the evacuation of the nearby hydroelectric generating station.

The river has acted as a natural fire break ever since the wildfire broke out on June 13 and then rapidly grew on June 19, prompting the evacuation of the town, home to 750 residents.

But a skeleton crew was kept on at the station, which supplies electricity to Labrador and Quebec.

A Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro spokeswoman confirmed that everyone at the plant – estimated at 100 employees, contractors and fire officials – have been ordered to leave.

Jennifer Williams, president of the Crown corporation, told a news conference in St. John’s that the plan is to operate the station remotely from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a three-hour drive to the east.

She said the massive plant, which started producing commercial power in 1971, wasn’t designed to be operated remotely, but crews have made it possible to offer limited monitoring and operation in the last few days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2024.

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