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The Crew Remains Busy with Multiple Calls as Wildfires in Halifax Area Persist | Breaking:


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Multiple fires in the Halifax area kept crews busy Thursday afternoon as temperatures soared above 30C and an 837-acre suburban wildfire burned for its fourth day.

In addition to the major blaze that hit the communities of Upper Tantallon, Hammonds Plains and Pockwock — which are currently 50 percent contained — new fires broke out at the Waegwoltic Club in the southern part of Halifax and in wooded areas near Prospect Road and Perrin Drive into Waverley. Halifax Fire officials said crews also had to respond to multiple motor vehicle collisions on Thursday.

“It’s so terribly dry right now, it’s a big challenge,” David Meldrum, Halifax deputy chief of fire and emergency services, said in an update with reporters at 5 p.m. Thursday. Meldrum said wet towels were used to cool down the crew due to the heat.

Meldrum said Halifax Fire will do more to enforce the county-wide fire ban in place. He said firefighters are now directed to report illegal burns to the fire prevention department so that it can be followed up for enforcement, which likely amounts to fines for violations for people who don’t follow the rules.

“This is important, this is about protecting each other, it’s about helping firefighters attend the emergencies that affect us all,” Meldrum said. The next update on the fires in the Halifax area is expected at 9 a.m. Friday

Propane torch and bonfire reports

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said there were reports of people violating the fire ban in the past 12 hours, including someone using a propane torch to burn leaves and another person starting a bonfire.

“This is a clear violation of the no-dumb policy,” Savage said in an update with reporters at 3 p.m. “Do not do it.”

Savage said there is “absolutely no reason” for people to burn or throw cigarettes outside.

LOOK | Violating the Halifax fire ban can lead to fines

Violating the Halifax fire ban can lead to fines

In a press conference Thursday at 5 p.m. with reporters, the deputy chief of the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Department, David Meldrum, said most outdoor fires are caused by humans and that personal responsibility is key.

Meldrum said additional assistance has been called in and off-duty firefighters have been recalled to an emergency base to assist with all fires.

“We’re stretched, not broken,” Meldrum said.

He said the Prospect Road fire had “put down,” meaning most of the open flame has been suppressed and crews will face smoldering fire. He said the Waegwoltic Club suffered “very, very significant damage”.

Dark smoke comes from a burning building.
Firefighters were called to the Waegwoltic Club at the Northwest Arm in Halifax on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

Keep indoor air safe

The county fine for violating the current ban on fires was increased this week from $237.50 to $25,000. Prime Minister Tim Houston told reporters Thursday afternoon he was not yet aware of any fines related to the issued fire ban.

Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang emphasized safety when it comes to smoke exposure. He said if you can see or smell it, air quality is negatively affected.

Strang advised people to avoid strenuous outdoor activities. He said people living close to the fires should keep their windows and doors closed as much as possible.

Air conditioners are safe to use as long as the fresh air intake is closed and the filter is clean, Strang said. He said heat pumps are safe because they don’t bring in outside air. Strang said anyone who needs specific health advice can call 811.

LOOK | NS officials will provide an update on forest fires on June 1

Officials have said about 200 homes and other structures were damaged by the fire that broke out Sunday afternoon in Westwood Hills, a suburb about 15 miles outside of Halifax.

About 16,400 residents were forced from their homes at the height of the evacuations — stretching from Upper Tantallon to Sackville. There are no reports of injuries or missing persons.

Meldrum said on Thursday morning that an audit of that damage is complete, although he had no figures.

  • Have you noticed that the price of fire insurance is going up? We’d love to hear from you for an upcoming story. Send an email to ask@cbc.ca.

He said evacuees should do that enroll at 311 so they can be notified if their property is damaged or destroyed. (Toll-free at 1-800-835-6428, 1-866-236-0020 for users with teletypewriters who are hearing-impaired only).

Meldrum said there are 10 fire engines on scene, as well as 15 tankers, two specialized units from the Federal Department of Defense and more than 130 firefighters, including crews from Prince Edward Island.

Thursday’s priorities are controlling flare-ups and hot spots and drenching the ground, as well as ensuring the health and safety of firefighters on the ground working in extreme conditions.

An image explains the crossover rule in yellow text on a blue background.
(Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

Firefighters “want to come here. They want to do this job, and indeed, in some cases we have more firefighters pestering their bosses to come and help,” he said. “This is a lengthy operation and we have over 50 fire stations in our community and they all need coverage.”

The federal government announced on Thursday that the Canadian Forces will provide support to fight wildfires raging in Nova Scotia, including planning and coordination support, and firefighters and fire specialists to help contain the blazes.

A helicopter takes off from a football field.
A number of helicopters drop water on the fire. It lands at a staging area in Tantallon, NS, to refuel on Wednesday. (Haley Ryan/CBC)

On Wednesday evening, an emergency alert announced that the evacuation order for residents of Indigo Shores had been withdrawn.

People were allowed to return to the neighborhood at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, but only through Margeson Drive with an ID with an address for the area.

Residents of Indigo Shores are still on evacuation notice, meaning they have 30 minutes left before they need to leave.

  • Do you have a question or something to say? Email: ask@cbc.ca

1685696556 179 The Crew Remains Busy with Multiple Calls as Wildfires

Think about what you should bring with you in the event of a 30-minute evacuation, says CAO

Cathie O’Toole Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the Regional Municipality of Halifax encouraged residents to think about bringing items such as important documents, medicines and pets in case evacuation areas change.

Meldrum has said Emergency Health Services has seen an increase in respiratory distress calls due to poor air quality, some as far away as Dunbrack Street in Halifax, about 12 miles from Upper Tantallon.

Nova Scotia is offering a one-time payment of $500 per eligible household for those affected by the evacuation order. Residents can request that payment through the Canadian Red Cross.

Officials are investigating what started the first fire in the Westwood Hills subdivision off Hammonds Plains Road, but Natural Resources Department officials have said it was likely human activity.

1685696557 43 The Crew Remains Busy with Multiple Calls as Wildfires

Houston to FBI: ‘It’s Time to Join What You’ve Got’

During a provincial update on the wildfires burning in Nova Scotia, Prime Minister Tim Houston said only the federal government knows what resources it has at its disposal.

Nova Scotia RCMP has said officers are patrolling affected neighborhoods 24 hours a day to keep out people who shouldn’t be there. There are no reports of looting or suspicious activity.

Police are also asking people to be vigilant in spotting possible scams related to the evacuations.

One incident has already been reported where someone was called to evacuate their home, even though there was no evacuation order for their area.

Evacuation areas

The council has said the evacuation zone is subject to change, and if people have to leave, they must bring their pets, important documents and medicines, as well as supplies for 72 hours.

People living in the areas affected by the local emergency should have a bag ready to leave as they may need to leave at short notice.

Areas affected by evacuations so far include:

  • Westwood Hills subdivision.
  • White Hills subdivision.
  • Highland Park subdivision.
  • Haliburton Hills.
  • Pockwock Road.
  • Glen Arbor.
  • Lucasville Road to Sackville Drive.
  • Maple wood.
  • Voyageur’s way.
  • St George Boulevard, including all side streets.
  • McCabe Lake area.

The Halifax Regional Municipality said all residents who must leave must register with 311 (toll-free at 1-800-835-6428, 1-866-236-0020 for teletypewriter users who are hearing-impaired only).

School closures

The following schools are closed on Friday:

  • Bay View High School.
  • Tantallon Junior Elementary School.
  • Tantallon Senior Elementary School.
  • Five Bridges Junior High.
  • St Margaret’s Bay Primary School.
  • Kingswood Elementary School.
  • Charles P. Allen High School.
  • Basinview Drive Community School.
  • Bedford South School.
  • Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School.
  • Millwood Elementary School.
  • Millwood High School.
  • Sackville Heights Elementary School.
  • Sackville Heights Junior High.

The Halifax Regional Center for Education said an update would be given Sunday night on school closures for Monday.

Comfort centers

The Regional Municipality of Halifax declared a local state of emergency on Sunday evening to access additional support.

Comfort centers are open at:

  • Black Point and Area Community Center, 8579 St Margarets Bay Rd., will be open Friday, June 2 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Center, 1583 Beaver Bank Rd., will be open Friday, June 2 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Canada Games Centre, 26 Thomas Raddall Dr., open 24 hours.
  • John W. Lindsay YMCA, 5640 Sackville St., Monday through Friday, 5:45 AM to 10:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 7:45 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Community YMCA, 2269 Gottingen St., Halifax, Monday through Friday, 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

A mobile primary health clinic will be available at the Canada Games comfort center on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. muscle pain and mental health and addiction support.

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