La Broquerie’s Fire Chief has been taking some heat for his decision on how they fought the fire in Zhoda earlier this week.

Al Nadeau was left with no choice but to spread manure on Provincial Road 302 to stop the fire from jumping the road. He says at this time of year when fire strikes in areas like Zhoda, they use large manure tankers from a local dairy farm to spray water into the ditch and the bush. He notes usually in spring farmers have the wagons ready to go on the farm filled with water but adds they’re all currently in use on the fields so the first couple loads weren’t water. 

Manure tanker filling up with water on Sunday(Photo credit: Peter De Jong)

“The first loads were manure, I don’t care, as long as it’s wet and after that we reloaded with water till 1:30 in the morning, to create a fire break for the town of Zhoda and also a fire break for I’d say 50,000 to 100,000 hogs on the east side of 302. We had to create that fire break we had no choice.”

Nadeau adds on Monday the fire was moving towards a hog operation north of Zhoda and notes to stop it from jumping the 302, they had to use manure and tankers from that hog barn to create a fire break. Nadeau says it wasn’t plan A but it was what they were forced to do.

“We tried plan A which was guys with backpacks in the bush so that we don’t have to burn along 302, guys almost got hurt. We got caught by a wind gust, we had to run out of there so then we went to plan B. Plan B, I had seen some manure tankers at a hog barn just one mile away. We had to do what we had to do to make sure the fire did not cross to the east of 302. That was our biggest thing, we needed to keep the fire west of 302.”

Nadeau says when you have to create a fire break, often times it has to be right now and you just have to use what you have nearby. He explains that section of the 302 will be graded on Thursday and the gravel that is pushed to the side of the road will be picked up and transported elsewhere in a field. Nadeau says he understands that biosecurity is a concern to farmers but notes his job is to put out fires and keep any buildings, including hog barns, from burning down and that's what they did. He says when they arrived in Zhoda on Sunday one house was already engulfed in flames and adds they had to sacrifice that one to save at least another 25 with that wind blowing as strong as it was.