Firefighters battle multiple out-of-control forest fires in N.S. and N.B.
HALIFAX -- There are several forest fires in the Maritimes including three in each province that are considered out of control.
Three in Nova Scotia include one in Havre Boucher, N.S., Antigonish Co., another in Argyle, Yarmouth Co., and the other is near Springfield, Kings Co.
The Frankville fire covered 200 hectares and the Springfield fire covered 120 hectares as of 9 p.m. Monday. The fire in Argyle is "an undetermined size" according to a Lands and Forestry tweet.
Helicopters and fire crews from Lands and Forestry left all three scenes Monday evening but were expected to return at first light.
A fourth new fire near Grand Mira South on Cape Breton Island is considered to be contained. It is about eight hectares in size and their crews have left the scene.
There was also a flare-up Monday afternoon at the site of a forest fire in Porters Lake, N.S., which created heavy smoke conditions that closed Highway 107 between Exits 18 and 20 for about two hours.
That fire was considered under control Sunday night, but the setback was brief. Halifax Regional Police said the highway reopened shortly after 7 p.m.
Lands and Forestry helicopters that were given the stand-down order after the Porters Lake fire was brought under control on Sunday evening were put back into action Monday afternoon and Monday evening.
Forest fires out of control in New Brunswick
In New Brunswick, there is a forest fire between Blackville and Rogersville, the latest in a string of fires in the last week. According to the New Brunswick Forest Fire Watch page, there are three forest fires that are considered out of control.
It's the 70th fire in the province since a burn ban was implemented a week ago.
The newest out-of-control forest fire in New Brunswick is approximately 18 kilometres southeast of Blackville, says Kelly Cormier, a spokeswoman with New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development. The fire started Monday afternoon.
"It is 300 to 400 hectares in size," Cormier said in an e-mail. "Six New Brunswick air tankers and two from Quebec are currently working on the fire as well as firefighter ground crews with the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development (DNRED). We have been told three unoccupied camp structures have been lost. No residential homes are in danger."
In Moncton, N.B., a local park known for its walking trails was evacuated Monday evening so firefighters could battle a brush fire there.
The call came in shortly after 6 p.m. at the Irishtown Nature Park.
Three trucks and three tankers responded along with 20 firefighters. The Moncton fire department received assistance from counterparts in Dieppe.
Moncton Platoon Chief Charles Melanson says it was a slow-moving fire that stayed low but flames still scorched a path from the main entrance to another road in the park.
There were no injuries and the fire was quickly contained.
Crews were working much of Monday evening to put out hot spots throughout the park.
Crews monitor hot spots in Porters Lake
The Porters Lake, N.S., fire started over the lunch hour Saturday on the north side of Highway 107, a day after a forest fire had started near Chester, N.S.
The Porters Lake fire reached an estimated 50 hectares and threatened homes nearby -- forcing roughly 1,000 people to leave their homes.
No homes were lost in the fire and the evacuation order was lifted Sunday night.
For most of Monday, 30 Lands and Forestry firefighters were searching for hot spots in the Porter Lake wildfire.
"Our crews are moving into the mop-up phase," said Dave Steeves of the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry. "It’s basically going to consist of a lot of walking and making ocular assessments and sometimes feeling the back of the ground with their hands just to ensure that we’ve got any areas of concern dealt with."
"Things are looking favourable this morning," Steeves said Monday morning. "We had some concerns (Sunday) regarding some possible weather that we were concerned was going to push the fire back onto the community, but with aggressive work from firefighters on the ground and continuing cooperation with Halifax Fire, we were able to make significant ground (Sunday) and secure the perimeter, so we’re currently at 100 per cent containment with a size of around 50 hectares."
Steeves said there were as many as 45 members of the Halifax Regional Fire Service fighting the fire and several trucks and pieces of equipment were brought to bear. They were joined by more than 30 firefighters from the Department of Lands and Forestry.
Steeves said the helicopters were no longer needed as of Sunday evening and were allowed to stand down.
Halifax Regional Municipality firefighters were on standby Monday as Lands and Forestry crews put out any hot spots and removed any leftover firefighting equipment.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
A burn ban for the entire province of Nova Scotia was put in place at 2 p.m. on Monday and will remain in place until at least Tuesday morning.
A dry month of May, which followed a winter without a lot of snow, has resulted in most areas of Nova Scotia being dangerously dry.
"Humidity is low, wind speeds are gusty and that leads to a dangerous fire condition right across the province," said Halifax Regional Fire Deputy Chief Dave Meldrum.
He says firefighters have tried to educate residents on fire safety, Meldrum says it's painfully clear the messages are being ignored by many.
"We had 92 calls for outdoor fires over the weekend while we were fighting a major fire here in the HRM," Meldrum said.
Meldrum says if fire safety education doesn't work, perhaps enforcement will.
"A summary offence ticket can be $410," Meldrum said. "Prosecution could go up to $10,000 in cost to firefighting."
"The dry, warm and windy conditions across the province pose significant risk in our forests, so we must remain vigilant about fire safety," said Iain Rankin, Minister of Lands and Forestry.