Kings County firefighters 'flat out' dealing with Arthur

Kirk Starratt
Published on July 6, 2014

Port Williams firefighters Alex Jacquard and Nikki Morine redirect traffic away from downed power lines on Highway 358 in the village.

©Kirk Starratt

Volunteer firefighters in Kings County didn’t have a chance to catch their breath as the emergency calls relating to Hurricane Arthur kept rolling in.

“It was flat-out yesterday,” Wolfville Fire Chief Kirk Fredericks said.

His department had several trucks on the road at the same time at one point. They responded to 23 calls on July 5 and one as of noon July 6. The majority had to do with trees, limbs and power lines downed by strong winds.

Fredericks said they’ve been chain-sawing and clearing trees from roads and clearing away fallen wires where it’s safe to do so. He said, luckily, there were no accidents to deal with. He said their lone call so far on July 6 was a short caused by a tree touching a power line on Hillcrest Avenue.

Greenwich Fire Chief Dave Miller said his department “wracked up 13 calls we recorded and another 15 we didn’t bother recording.” He said the volume of emergency calls was so great at one point that Valley Communications had difficulty keeping up.

He said the majority of calls were downed trees and power lines so firefighters “dealt with it and carried on.”

The most serious call they responded to was a tree that fell on a house in Port Williams and started a fire.

“We got it out pretty quick,” Miller said. He estimates there was between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of damage incurred but that is “better than losing the house.”

Miller said Nova Scotia Power was so busy responding to calls about downed lines that they didn’t have the human resources to keep up. However, Greenwich firefighters were fortunate that they didn’t have any motor vehicle incidents to respond to.

“The public was pretty good about staying off the roads,” Miller said.

Canning Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Skaling said their department started the day on July 5 with a call about lightning striking a house in Kingsport at around 6:30 a.m. Luckily, no one was injured and it didn’t start a fire.

“It blew the chimney all to pieces,” Skaling said.

After the wind picked up, the department started getting calls about downed trees and branches blocking roads and taking out power lines. They received six calls of this nature and Skaling estimates there were another six or so incidents that firefighters discovered and dealt with.

Skaling said his department was responded to a couple of fire alarms, one in Habitant at around 3 a.m. and another at around noon on July 6 in Sheffield Mills.

“It was mostly battery systems on alarm systems dying and tripping the alarm,” Skaling said. Firefighters found no problems in either instance.

He said the department was likely to get more calls of this nature as Nova Scotia Power begins reactivating the grid, bumping alarm systems. He said more problems with the local electrical grid would probably be discovered once power begins to be restored.