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Fire officials on edge as Nova Scotia dries up

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Tents in wooded areas around Halifax are a pretty common sight. On the weekend, several went up in flames in different locations around the city.

It's often difficult to pinpoint a cause because of the amount of damage.

“It’s usually related to heating of some sort, smoking, careless use of smoking materials, or bringing a heating device inside of a tent,” says Roy Hollett, the deputy chief of Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency.

Max Chauvin, Halifax's director of housing and homelessness, says there are roughly 100 people staying in both designated and non-designated tenting sites around the city.

“Everybody is expected to follow the regulations,” he says.

With wildfire conditions worsening, efforts are underway to inform those living in encampments about potential hazards.

Tents in the woods are pictured. (Jonathan MacInnis/CTV Atlantic)

“They are given some written information that is reviewed with them both by the street navigators and at times the fire public education folks,” Chauvin says.

Concerns aren't confined to the HRM boundaries. Despite a relatively quiet start to the forest fire season, officials with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR) are keeping a close eye on the conditions around the province.

“Fire load has been relatively light, but the conditions are certainly receptive to having new starts, so we’re encouraging everyone to be safe with fire,” says Scott Tingley with DNRR. “We can’t encourage enough caution for folks out in the woods, whether it be with a campfire, operating an ATV or any other equipment that could create a spark.

“Communities in and around the area of last year’s historic fires are being watched closely. Our driest areas are down in the southwestern part of the province. Yarmouth county, Shelburne county, and certainly up through the western end and part of the central region as well.”

DNRR’s updated fire restrictions only allow burning between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. province-wide except for Victoria County in Cape Breton where people can burn from 2 p.m. to 8 a.m.

With the Victoria Day long weekend coming up, Deputy Fire Chief Roy Hollett acknowledges it’s a busy time at campgrounds. He’s encouraging everyone to not only check provincial burning regulations but also municipal ones that may be in place.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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