Spryfield fire questions

Halifax Fire Department and Natural Resources are ducking answers

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Remember the Spryfield fire?

Monday, May 4, I spoke with both Mike LeRue of Halifax Fire and Emergency Services and Jennifer Gavin of the provincial Department of Natural Resources, and both promised they’d issue an explanation of what had happened “by the end of the week.” That was over two weeks ago. Still nothing.

Here’s what I know: Residents around Roaches Pond say a fire started Wednesday, April 29. Firefighters worked on the fire until nightfall. At that point the fire appeared to be out, and one resident heard over the scanner the order given to remove hosing from the site. The hoses were not removed, however.

The next day, firefighters were not re-deployed to the area until around 11am. They stayed until just after noon. At around 3:30pm, residents reported seeing smoke in the same area as the fire the day before, and that fire spread to Furgusons Cove, destroying eight houses.

LeRue and Gavin point at each other’s departments for being responsible for checking on possible flare-ups.

Clearly, a full independent investigation of the fire needs to be conducted. That investigation should look at command decisions at both departments, communication between the departments and how responsibilities are delegated in such emergencies. More, the investigation should look at zoning and building code policies in the urban/wildland interface.

With an increasingly dry climate and expanding development in fire zones, we’ll likely have many more such tragedies. A responsible government would try to learn how to prevent such problems in the first place, and how to better respond to them when they do occur, but the Spryfield fire seems to have gone down the memory hole, just another screw-up we’ll all pretend never happened.

Editor's note: The following was issued by The Coast on April 13, 2010.

APOLOGY

On May 22, 2009, The Coast posted an article on our website entitled "Spryfield fire questions." As with all of our stories, readers were invited to comment on the article. Unfortunately, several readers took this opportunity to write defamatory comments about Halifax Regional Municipality Fire Services Chief Bill Mosher and Deputy Chief Steve Thurber.

These comments were completely unsubstantiated and have harmed the reputations of Chief Mosher and Deputy Chief Thurber. The Coast sincerely apologizes to Chief Mosher and Deputy Chief Thurber for the damage to their reputations and the pain and suffering they have endured as a result of the defamatory comments which The Coast permitted to be posted on its website.

The postings have been removed from our website. As a consequence of the abuse of our comments policy, further comment posting in respect to this story will not be accepted.