Canadian Underwriter

Belleville firefighters busy with sandbags as river rises; outdoor fires banned

April 13, 2014   by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

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BELLEVILLE, Ont. – Belleville’s firefighters are so busy helping with sandbagging efforts due to flooding that an outdoor burning ban has been brought in to help prevent fires.

Deputy fire chief Bruce Greatrix says residents of rural areas around the city are normally allowed to set controlled fires to get rid of their yard waste at this time of year, if they have a permit.

But the burning ban has been implemented because fire crews don’t have time to respond to outdoor fires, which can quickly spread if it gets windy.

Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis declared a state of emergency Thursday because of rising water levels on the Moira River.

He says proclaiming the state of emergency allows the city to recruit volunteers to help build sand bag barriers around homes and property, among other protections.

Quinte Conservation issued a flood warning Wednesday for the Moira River, north of Belleville’s urban area.

Officials say flow rates were increasing again Friday, and heavy rain expected early next week could make the situation even worse.

The area was inundated by flooding in the spring of 2008, and officials predict the situation could be almost as severe this year.

Flood warnings have also been issued for the Salmon and Napanee Rivers, and for the Trent River from Trenton to Hastings.

A woman and her young daughter were rescued from their Belleville home Thursday by firefighters using an inflatable raft.

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