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Man, 22, charged in connection with largest wildfire in N.S. history


Nova Scotia’s Natural Resources Department says a 22-year-old man has been charged in connection with a massive wildfire in Shelburne County last spring.

Dalton Clark Stewart of Villagedale was charged Wednesday under the Forests Act with:

  • lighting a fire on privately owned land without permission of the owner or occupier
  • failing to take reasonable efforts to prevent the spread of a fire
  • leaving a fire unattended

Stewart is scheduled to appear in Shelburne provincial court on March 7.

The charges stem from the Barrington Lake wildfire, which first broke out on May 26, 2023, and was finally brought under control on June 13 and extinguished on July 26.

The fire grew to 23,379 hectares, the largest recorded in the province's history.

It forced more than 6,000 people from their homes and destroyed 60 houses and cottages, as well as 150 other structures.

It was the last in a string of spring wildfires in the province to be tamed.

“It’s a relief to see the justice system working for the people of the area that was put out of place, put out by the wildfires,” says Eddie Nickerson, warden for Barrington district 4. “It was pretty devastating for the area. We have never experienced anything like that, as you know. It was the biggest wildfire in the history of the province.”

“Sometimes these investigations are complex in nature, and we want to ensure that we are thoroughly investigating any piece of evidence or any lead that we have. I understand it’s been a while, but we need to be sure that we are thorough,” adds Orlando Fraser, a conservation officer with the Natural Resources Department.

Fraser says he does not expect any additional charges to come out of the Barrington Lake wildfire investigation.


The Natural Resources Department says it also continues to investigate the 2023 Tantallon-area wildfire, which burned 969 hectares.

‘’While the Department has gathered considerable information, there is a high bar for what can be used as evidence in court,” reads a Thursday news release from the province.

The fire burned in the suburbs north of Halifax between May 28 and June 4. It destroyed 151 homes, and at a peak, forced the evacuation of 16,000.

It was fully extinguished on July 26.

Last month, the Nova Scotia RCMP said there was insufficient evidence to indicate the fire was the result of arson.

"We concluded our file in September and provided this information to the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR) as the lead investigating agency," Cst. Dominic Laflamme told CTV News in an email on Dec. 29, 2023. "We continue to liaise with them and are available to provide assistance as required."

Those convicted of violating the Forests Act can be fined up to $50,000 and/or face up to six months in prison.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV's Jonathan MacInnis.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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