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Annapolis County businesses helping fire crews at Seven Mile Lake

The Wilder Restaurant along Highway 8, near Keji, became a sanctuary of sorts for the firefighters battling blazes in Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake.
The Wilder Restaurant along Highway 8, near Keji, became a sanctuary of sorts for the firefighters battling blazes in Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake.

ANNAPOLIS COUNTY - Businesses in and around the areas impacted by the Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake forest fires are rallying behind the firefighters protecting their communities.

The Wilder Restaurant & General Store in Maitland Bridge has become a place of reprieve for firefighters and crew in the thick of the action.

The restaurant is located along Highway 8, a rural route leading to the nearby Kejimkujik National Park from Annapolis Royal. The Wilder has noted a decrease in traffic with a 26-kilometre stretch of the roadway closed to aid in the firefighting efforts, but owner Lekas Bell says they’re keeping plenty busy.

“The nature of what’s going on right now doesn’t allow us to keep the restaurant open to the public… we are focusing on feeding the firefighters and the crew,” he said Aug. 10.

“It’s been repurposed to work in a completely different way. We’re pumping out lunches for 150 people a day.”

The general store remains open, and restaurant staff agreed to essentially work around the clock to meet the needs of the firefighters.

“We talked with the staff when this started and everyone was on board to work more and completely change their hours.”

Bell was happy to hear that the closest fire to The Wilder, the Maitland Bridge blaze, was contained Aug. 10.

“Yesterday morning when we arrived it was dark and we could smell… the smoke very, very strong – very thick,” he recalled.

The next day was a different story, with no visible signs of a fire from the restaurant on sight on a bright, sunny day.

“There’s a lot of people working on this fire, a lot of different groups coordinating and working around the clock to focus on containing the fire - and we are just one of them,” said Bell.

“Everyone is doing everything they can to make sure everyone is doing OK.”

The Wilder has become a drop-off spot for residents and individuals looking to donate items to the firefighters, but Bell said the Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to deliver donations directly to the fire departments when possible.

“It’s actually really heartwarming to see how people come together when there’s a situation like this,” he said.

Sunken Dorey Pizza owners David and Dan Cardinal sent the firefighters five pizzas on the house Aug. 5, and later decided to temporarily close the Granville Ferry-based business to the public in order to send another 30 pizzas to the scene at the request of the fire department.

“We shut our shop down to the public and fed just the firefighters for one night and a day and then a part of another night,” said Dan Cardinal.

“We just kept feeding them until we ran out of stock.”

Cardinal said a member of the community suggested people rally together to cover the $525 bill, and the tab was soon paid in full with donations coming from as far away as Halifax.

“It’s remarkable. It’s unbelievable,” said Cardinal, referring to the attention Sunken Dorey Pizza’s Facebook page has received since the fundraiser began.

“Our page went crazy. I couldn’t keep up to the posts and the donations kept pouring in.”

Any donations collected once the bill was paid will be presented to the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department, Cardinal said.

Cardinal said both he and his brother remember the days they worked 50 hours straight as contractors working on tight deadlines, and they were happy to do something to help the crews fighting to contain the unruly wildfires that broke out in Annapolis County last week.

“We know what it’s like to go hard like that and not have time to stop and eat, let alone hydrate yourself,” he said.

“I can only imagine what it’s like out there when you’re doing that against the heat.”

No cancellations for Milford House

As of late afternoon Aug. 10, Milford House general manager Val Richard was pleased to report it was still, for the most part, business as usual at the resort offering lakeside cabin rentals near Keji.

“We’ve had no smoke yet but they told us that we may get some this afternoon because there’s going to be a wind shift,” she said.

Guests followed through with the reservations despite reports of wildfires in the Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake areas.

“Nobody has cancelled. Nobody’s panicked,” she said.

Milford House is still accessible from Annapolis Royal via Highway 8, but a roadblock is in place between Milford House and the entrance for Keji.

“The problem that we’re having is a lot of my housekeeping staff live out in Caledonia and they can’t get into work,” said Richard, who stressed that they are looking for housekeepers interested in picking up a few shifts.

Milford House closed its three trails and beachside fire pit in response to the provincial ban prohibiting fires and restricting trail use.

Richard admitted the first two nights were tough before the Maitland Bridge fire was contained.

“We had a couple of sleepless nights when that first fire was at Maitland Bridge because that was pretty close to us,” she said, estimating that the fire was about eight kilometres away.

Milford House was closed to the public for about a year after a fire burned the lodge to the ground in May 2014.

In learning of the forest fire in Maitland Bridge, Richard said she decided to stay calm, keep a close eye on the situation, ensure guests received pertinent information and be available in case Milford House can be of service to those fighting the fires.

“We’re here if they need help.”

 

 

The Wilder Restaurant & General Store in Maitland Bridge has become a place of reprieve for firefighters and crew in the thick of the action.

The restaurant is located along Highway 8, a rural route leading to the nearby Kejimkujik National Park from Annapolis Royal. The Wilder has noted a decrease in traffic with a 26-kilometre stretch of the roadway closed to aid in the firefighting efforts, but owner Lekas Bell says they’re keeping plenty busy.

“The nature of what’s going on right now doesn’t allow us to keep the restaurant open to the public… we are focusing on feeding the firefighters and the crew,” he said Aug. 10.

“It’s been repurposed to work in a completely different way. We’re pumping out lunches for 150 people a day.”

The general store remains open, and restaurant staff agreed to essentially work around the clock to meet the needs of the firefighters.

“We talked with the staff when this started and everyone was on board to work more and completely change their hours.”

Bell was happy to hear that the closest fire to The Wilder, the Maitland Bridge blaze, was contained Aug. 10.

“Yesterday morning when we arrived it was dark and we could smell… the smoke very, very strong – very thick,” he recalled.

The next day was a different story, with no visible signs of a fire from the restaurant on sight on a bright, sunny day.

“There’s a lot of people working on this fire, a lot of different groups coordinating and working around the clock to focus on containing the fire - and we are just one of them,” said Bell.

“Everyone is doing everything they can to make sure everyone is doing OK.”

The Wilder has become a drop-off spot for residents and individuals looking to donate items to the firefighters, but Bell said the Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to deliver donations directly to the fire departments when possible.

“It’s actually really heartwarming to see how people come together when there’s a situation like this,” he said.

Sunken Dorey Pizza owners David and Dan Cardinal sent the firefighters five pizzas on the house Aug. 5, and later decided to temporarily close the Granville Ferry-based business to the public in order to send another 30 pizzas to the scene at the request of the fire department.

“We shut our shop down to the public and fed just the firefighters for one night and a day and then a part of another night,” said Dan Cardinal.

“We just kept feeding them until we ran out of stock.”

Cardinal said a member of the community suggested people rally together to cover the $525 bill, and the tab was soon paid in full with donations coming from as far away as Halifax.

“It’s remarkable. It’s unbelievable,” said Cardinal, referring to the attention Sunken Dorey Pizza’s Facebook page has received since the fundraiser began.

“Our page went crazy. I couldn’t keep up to the posts and the donations kept pouring in.”

Any donations collected once the bill was paid will be presented to the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department, Cardinal said.

Cardinal said both he and his brother remember the days they worked 50 hours straight as contractors working on tight deadlines, and they were happy to do something to help the crews fighting to contain the unruly wildfires that broke out in Annapolis County last week.

“We know what it’s like to go hard like that and not have time to stop and eat, let alone hydrate yourself,” he said.

“I can only imagine what it’s like out there when you’re doing that against the heat.”

No cancellations for Milford House

As of late afternoon Aug. 10, Milford House general manager Val Richard was pleased to report it was still, for the most part, business as usual at the resort offering lakeside cabin rentals near Keji.

“We’ve had no smoke yet but they told us that we may get some this afternoon because there’s going to be a wind shift,” she said.

Guests followed through with the reservations despite reports of wildfires in the Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake areas.

“Nobody has cancelled. Nobody’s panicked,” she said.

Milford House is still accessible from Annapolis Royal via Highway 8, but a roadblock is in place between Milford House and the entrance for Keji.

“The problem that we’re having is a lot of my housekeeping staff live out in Caledonia and they can’t get into work,” said Richard, who stressed that they are looking for housekeepers interested in picking up a few shifts.

Milford House closed its three trails and beachside fire pit in response to the provincial ban prohibiting fires and restricting trail use.

Richard admitted the first two nights were tough before the Maitland Bridge fire was contained.

“We had a couple of sleepless nights when that first fire was at Maitland Bridge because that was pretty close to us,” she said, estimating that the fire was about eight kilometres away.

Milford House was closed to the public for about a year after a fire burned the lodge to the ground in May 2014.

In learning of the forest fire in Maitland Bridge, Richard said she decided to stay calm, keep a close eye on the situation, ensure guests received pertinent information and be available in case Milford House can be of service to those fighting the fires.

“We’re here if they need help.”

 

 

Sunken Dorey Pizza co-owners David Cardinal and Dan Cardinal stand with employee Jajie Alaku, right, for a photo in their Granville Ferry-based shop. The Cardinal brothers have temporarily closed their business to the public on a couple of occasions in order to make pizzas for the firefighters battling wildfires in Maitland Bridge and Seven Mile Lake.
Deputy Chief Brian Oliver, Firefighter Matt Smith, Firefighter Craig Wright, Firefighter Rob Lawrie, Operator Wes Hearn and Firefighter Andy Sharpe were on standby at the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department in the afternoon Aug. 10.
Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department auxiliary members Cheryl Anderson, Vicky Smith and Barb Francis have been busy preparing sandwiches, sweet and beverages for the firefighters working the wildfires.
Dareth Troop dropped a donation of popsicles off at the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department Aug. 10. Pictured accepting the donation is Firefighter Matt Smith.

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