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Firefighting efforts continue in Shelburne County

Fire crews are still working to extinguish the 23,525 hectares fire near Barrington Lake.

Helicopters are in the air, however the smoke-filled horizon that had become a common sight in Shelburne County is now gone.

Highway 103 between Exits 27 and 30 will reopen to the public at 8 p.m. Thursday, though motorists will not be allowed to stop along this section of highway.

There has been strong progress, but fire crews are not out of the woods yet.

“The fire is still being held at this time and that means we are not expecting the perimeter to grow,” said David Rockwood, public information officer for the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR).

From the helicopter, DNRR staff continue to spot smouldering areas that need dousing.

“We do know that it has gone down into the ground. It’s not too deep, but it’s down in the ground. The ground is drying out quickly,” Rockwood said.

To help pinpoint those spots, special equipment is en route from British Columbia.

“They’ll do thermal imaging scan, so registering the heat in the ground and that will make it easier for us to find a hotspot,” he said.

All this means some residents still can’t return home.

“Couch surfing with friends and family is an enormous amount of pressure on relationships and those are the lucky people. Sleeping on a cot in the arena is also not fun,” Ingomar resident, Cheryl Atkinson, said.

Oil spills, septic backups and hotspots are being blamed for keeping residents like Atkinson out of their homes.

The fire is being attacked by 130 DNRR firefighters with help from outside the province and municipal and volunteer firefighters on scene. Crews are working to extinguish what’s left of the largest forest fire in the province’s history.

The Salvation Army has taken on the task of feeding the hungry crews battling the fire, serving more than 250 meals a day for ten days straight.

“At the end of the day they need a good hearty meal at the end of the day because they’re cold, they’re tired, they’re wet, and to come in for a good meal, hot meal,” Major Marie Osborne-Keeping with the Salvation Army, said.

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