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Cape Breton officials keep close eye on growing Maritime wildfires

With fires out of control across the Maritimes, emergency officials in Cape Breton are preparing in case wildfires start in the region.

“We are having conversations right now about bringing in provincial training for the firefighters, so that we’re able to help them in the event that something does occur and start deploying appropriately,” said Michael Seth, fire chief and director of fire and emergency services for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

To help communities prepare, the municipality is currently holding information sessions about wildfire risk reduction.

“For the past three months the CBRM has experienced a lower level of rainfall and snowfall than we would normally expect, so we're entering our spring and summer seasons dryer than we normally would,” said Bruce MacDonald, manager of Cape Breton’s emergency management organization.

Dry conditions and trees downed due to post-tropical storm Fiona make for ideal wildfire conditions. 

A burn ban has been called province-wide and will remain in place until at least June 25.

Cape Breton’s mayor said she is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst after watching how quickly things can change just four hours down the highway.

“It can happen. It's happening right now. It’s not a case of if, but when,” said Amanda McDougall-Merrill, Mayor of CBRM.

McDougall-Merrill said the recent experience with Fiona has given officials a leg up when dealing with disaster.

“Every member of our council is talking to their MLAs on a daily basis about what's next and what's happening, and since Fiona we've been talking with ACOA about creating a fund to be better prepared for the next weather event or disaster,” McDougall-Merrill said.  

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