Two dead, thousands remain without power in New Brunswick after ice storm

Downed power poles and ice covered signs are shown in Escuminac, N.B., on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Thousands of people in New Brunswick are still without power, days after a winter storm blasted through the region.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Diane Doiron

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's premier says two people died and two more were injured from carbon monoxide poisoning during the ice storm that has wreaked havoc in New Brunswick.

Premier Brian Gallant told a news conference in Caraquet that "it is with deep sadness," that he's learned the two deaths are related to the potentially lethal gas.

"The most important thing at this time is the safety of our residents as we work to recover from this storm. That is why we are devastated to have learned of these events," said Gallant, who cancelled plans to attend a summit of Atlantic premiers and key federal ministers in Wolfville, N.S., Friday.

The province was rushing more resources to northern areas, as recovery efforts continue for small communities where power has been out since Wednesday's ice storm.

RCMP spokesman Paul Greene says the Mounties responded to the deaths of a 62-year-old man at his home in Petite Riviere de l'ile on Lameque Island in the Acadian Peninsula on Thursday night and the death of a 74-year-old woman in her garage in Saint-Leolin, also a small community on the Acadian Peninsula, on Thursday afternoon.

Greene said the man's death was believed to be caused by carbon monoxide from a generator running in the home, while the death of the woman also appeared to be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, though few details were available on Friday night.

Autopsies were to be carried out in both cases.

The premier said he is also consulting with the federal government on whether the Canadian Armed Forces can help in the recovery.

"We will exhaust all options to add support for our fellow New Brunswickers who are still without power," he said.

There were still tens of thousands of customers without power throughout northeastern New Brunswick as of late Friday afternoon, and several municipalities had declared states of emergency.

The build-up of ice on trees, poles and lines was up to two inches in places, creating challenges for workers with NB Power and other utilities working feverishly as temperatures fell. New outages continue to be reported.

Gallant said during his visit to Caraquet that storm recovery efforts would be intensified in the regions of the Acadian Peninsula, Miramichi and Kent County.

He said the government plans to open additional emergency shelters, bring in first responders and assign provincial employees from other areas to offer support to residents without power.

A provincial government news release says an estimated 50 ground search and rescue teams, local fire fighters, peace officers and public safety officials are going door to door to check on the welfare of residents, and more resources will be added over the weekend.

— Story by Michael Tutton in Halifax.

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