Mayor suspects vandalism after pump bursts into flames during brush fire on Bell Island

A fire truck in Wabana caught fire as crews responded to a brush fire call. (Submitted by Jordan Blackwood)

Amid a fire ban in Newfoundland and Labrador, the town of Wabana is now out of a fire truck after a fire engine caught fire on Bell Island over the weekend.

“Our fire truck got into the bush and the fire spread under our truck and ignited all the way to our exhaust system,” Mayor Gary Gosine said.

The city purchased the pump from another municipality a few years ago. Without it, they are now out of one of their major firefighting equipment.

“We responded to eight or 10 fires. And from the community we received over 40 phone calls in two days,” Gosine said.

Gosine said the volume is unusual for the local fire department. Although it can usually answer multiple calls at once, this depends on the availability of a full set of resources.

The photo shows the charred interior of a fire truck cabin, including a melted steering wheel.
Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine said a fire over the weekend that ignited a truck could have been vandalism. (Submitted by Jordan Blackwood)

Newfoundland and Labrador Fire Services have been kept on their toes during the recent hot weather. While two major wildfires have spiraled out of control in central Newfoundland, smaller fires have broken out elsewhere, sometimes caused by sparks from things like barnyard fires.

Gosine said he doesn’t believe all of Wabana’s fires are natural.

“Everyone tells me it probably started from a pebble and the sun hit a pebble, so that reacted and started a fire,” he said.

“I don’t seem to think that way – I just think it was vandalism. Because there are too many fires going on.”

He said the fires put crews at risk.

“They’re all trained firefighters, but someone could easily get trapped. And that’s what I’m really afraid of,” he said.

Gosine said he has spoken to other towns that may want to help.

A fire truck sits in an open field with the front half blackened by fire.
One of Wabana’s main fire equipment was burned after catching fire last weekend. (Submitted by Jordan Blackwood)

“We will take all the help we can get from any city to bring our firefighting equipment back to status quo.”

Goisine said a likely scenario would involve getting an old pumper from another community.

He said losing a truck like this in a small community can be “life or death,” and he hopes to get another soon.

“We just have to wait. That’s all we can do.”

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