Push For Hwy. 17 Firefighting Coverage


There's another call for more emergency protection along Highway 17 west of Deep River.  

There's no local fire department along the 70-kilometre stretch of highway in Head, Clara and Maria Township, meaning there's no dedicated firefighting or extrication services in the event of a serious crash.  

Reeve Debbi Grills says they've relied on their neighbours on an informal basis, such as Papineau-Cameron Township to the west and Laurentian Hills to the east, but an incident this past week where a logging truck caught fire is yet again underscoring the need for a formal contract.

Grills says she's taking up the issue with MPP John Yakabuski.

"The provincial government is encouraging us to share services, and that's one service we are really in need of here in Head, Clara and Maria Township", Grills told Pure Country 96.7.

"We have 70 kilometres of Trans-Canada Highway here, and the possibilty of everything from very small car accidents that require auto extrication, right up to transport trucks, logging truck incidents like what happened this past week, and even buses and school buses.  So, I do think there has to be a solution", Grills added.

Last week's logging truck fire did not result in injuries but Grills says they've seen their share of serious collisions and fires along the highway.

"It's been an ongoing issue for this council, and last two, three, maybe even four previous terms of council, in trying to solve the problem up here", Grills says.

She notes that neighbouring Laurentian Hills has an agreement to provide fire services to the nearby Quebec island community of Rapides-Des-Joachims (the Swisha), and something formal needs to be in place for Head, Clara and Maria as well.

Grills says without it, there are no guarantees that neighboring departments will respond.

She adds that her sparsely populated township cannot afford the five to six million dollars it would cost to start up a local volunteer fire department.

Grills is hopeful that the issue will get some attention this fall.