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Shelburne County, N.S., gets much needed rainfall as wildfire continues

Shelburne County, N.S., received its first bout of rainfall since the record-breaking wildfire, which now covers approximately 250 square kilometres.

Moisture from Friday night and periods of heavy rain Saturday helped clear some of the smoke, which allowed firefighters to get into the fire zone and work on containment measures.

Annapolis Royal firefighters Jason Rock, left, and Anthony Lopiandowski spray hot spots in the Birchtown area of Nova Scotia's Shelburne County on June 3, 2023. (Source: Communications Nova Scotia)

“We’re not getting those big flame fronts that we’ve been seeing all week, so we’re able to get our crews in there closer to spray things down and work along with the weather,” said David Rockwood, information officer for the Barrington Fire Complex.

Although the area is expected to see rain for much of the upcoming week, Rockwood said that may not be enough to stop the fire.

“This fire has burned pretty heavy and deep in some areas for days, which puts a lot of heat in the ground. You got to think about all the rocks that are heated up, so it can take potentially a few hundred millimetres of rain to really do anything,” explained Rockwood.

While the weather is helping with containing the fire, Friday night, more evacuations happened near the Municipality of Shelburne on Upper Clyde. Rockwood said this was due to precautionary measures because of a wind shift that caused the fire to grow at that time.

“Upper Clyde is a remote location. They only have one way in and one way out. They can’t come down south on that road anymore because of the fire.”

Tarissa Buchanan and her husband, Tyler Dedrick, had to leave home with their three kids nearly one week ago. They do not know if their home is still standing.

“We don’t know anything that’s going on. We just hear hearsay and you can’t trust that,” said Buchanan.

While the rain does bring the couple some hope, they said what they saw Saturday is not enough rain to stop the fire.

“My daughter woke up this [Saturday] morning and she said, ‘It’s raining, can we go home?’ I told her, ‘It’s not that quick, there’s still a lot of work to be done,’” said Dedrick.

The local warden for the Municipality of Barrington Eddie Nickerson said all evacuees should remain clear of the affected areas for safety reasons.

Annapolis Royal, N.S., volunteer firefighter Jason Rock sprays hot spots in the Birchtown area on June 3, 2023. (Source: Communications Nova Scotia)

“We understand residents are worried about their homes and properties, and while we have confirmed some structures including homes have been destroyed, and some are still standing, there are no firm details on numbers as of yet.”

Dedrick said it is difficult to think about the future.

“It’s scary to think you have to start over after you’ve had to work this hard to keep it all together and build them a good life.”

Several roads in Shelburne County remain closed. Exclusion zones were also expanded around the fire.

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