A family that drove through a growing forest fire in New Brunswick’s Kent County are recalling the “hell” they saw.
Gabriel Poirier, his mother and great-grandmother were driving towards Bouchtouche after 4 p.m. Thursday, when they saw huge plumes of smoke.
As they drove closer, in the Sainte-Marie area, they realized they were in the thick of a forest fire. The Saint-Marie area is about 45 minutes north of Moncton.
“When we arrived, it was just this pure black. Like, just smoke everywhere,” said Poirier.
“It looked like hell.”
Poirier said at the time, there were no first responders on scene yet. It was only as they were driving further away from the area that they saw fire trucks and police arriving.
“The flames were erupting from the ground,” he said.
“My great-grandmother was in the car with us and she was terrified. She thought we were entering hell. The smoke was pure black, you couldn’t see the sun.”
The province’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed there was an active fire about 30 hectares in size about one-kilometre away from homes.
In an update at about 10:00 p.m. Thursday, department spokesperson Nick Brown told Global News the fire was “contained to the area it originated from.”
Water bombers and an air tanker from Newfoundland were returning home.
There were six water bombers working on the fire as of the supper hour.
“Crews and equipment will be back on the scene first thing in the morning to complete containment and begin a clean up,” Brown said.
The nearby homes weren’t directly threatened, he noted.
Poirier said he watched the fire jump the road towards the houses, and said his relatives who live nearby decided to leave.
Rene Giriourd lives nearby from the blaze and said Thursday evening he spotted smoke in the sky at around 2:30 p.m.
“Right away I knew it wasn’t an ordinary cloud and I think the fire was just starting,” he said. “But it was kind of orangey colours, really thick smoke, and then it started to lift up.”
There was also an out-of-control forest fire near Doaktown, according to DNR.
Brown also later confirmed DNR and local firefighters were battling a blaze about six hectares in size in the Welsford region.
– with files from Callum Smith and Philip Croucher