An incident at the Winterland EcoMuseum has Boyd Holloway speaking out about the dangers of being careless with fire.
The Marystown resident was visiting the trail with his granddaughter and some of her friends on Saturday, May 4.
The girls had wandered on ahead when Holloway heard what sounded like a gunshot.
“Of course, it startled me and I ran to see what was going on,” he told The Southern Gazette.
Holloway, 71, came across a group of youth, who looked to be teenagers, shooting off fireworks.
The youth took off when they saw Holloway coming, and as he approached the area where they had been, he realized the grass was on fire.
“I jumped out in the bog and starting stomping, trying to stamp it out,” he explained. “There was a little breeze … it was just spreading like crazy.”
Holloway figured he’d better call 911 but had left his cellphone in his car. He was just about to head back to the vehicle when he saw some people coming. One of them, a young man whose name he never managed to catch, came running towards him. The Southern Gazette has since learned the individual was 26-year-old Ryan Kearney of St. Lawrence.
While one member of the group called 911, Holloway and Kearney made another attempt to stomp out the fire and succeeded.
Holloway feels it was a dangerous situation.
“It’s a good thing we were there because, I tell ya, it wouldn’t have taken very long, the park would have been on fire,” he said.
“There’s a tendency to think, ‘oh well, everything is wet now, winter is just ending, the snow just went away, and there’s no problem.’ Grass this time of year is extremely flammable.”
Winterland Fire Chief Don Cooke told The Southern Gazette a call came in about the fire and he and another firefighter did follow up at the EcoMuseum. By the time they arrived, the fire was out and no one was around, he said.
“The only good thing about that is, where they stuck (the firework), it was kind of a wet area around it,” Cooke said. “So I don’t think the fire would have gotten away, but you never know.”
In a May 9 news release, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources indicated it had received reports of 31 fires on the island portion of the province since forest fire season began May 1. That’s more than twice the number of fires reported during the same time frame last year.
More than 80 per cent of wildfires are caused by humans, the department notes.
For Holloway, he was just glad he was at the EcoMuseum and able to help put the fire out.
“I was pretty well winded,” he said of the effort involved.