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Tantallon-area residents who lost homes in N.S. wildfire offered chance to view neighbourhood

Halifax is offering residents whose homes have been destroyed by wildfires the chance to view their neighbourhoods as fires continue to burn.

Bill Moore, executive director of community safety with Halifax Regional Municipality, said Friday that residents who have been identified as living in the “significantly impacted zones” have been invited to board buses that will drive around their community as fires still burn.

This plan is only possible, Moore said, because firefighters on scene have identified a “fire window” when it is expected to be safe to enter the wildfire areas.

There have been about 200 structures or homes destroyed in the suburban area northwest of Halifax and about 16,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes.

Busses will take residents to see damaged homes in Upper Tantallon, Pockwork and Hammonds Plains Friday.

“Individuals from the significantly impacted zone — prioritizing those that we’ve deemed that they had their house destroyed — is the first group,” Moore said of the tour.

Moore said other residents will be invited to view their neighbourhoods when it becomes safe to do so.

“The reality is we only have a small window provided,” he said.

“This is still an active fire zone,” Roy Hollet, deputy fire chief with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said Friday.Water is dropped on a wildfire hotspot near Tantallon. (Communications Nova Scotia)With firefighting resources in the Halifax-area spread thin amongst multiple fires that began Thursday afternoon, the municipality’s largest fire that started Sunday remains 50 per cent contained.

“Yesterday was a tough day for the folks on the line. It was hot, relatively windy… The issue was all the additional issues that sprang to life,” Department of Natural Resources and Renewables forest technician Dave Steeves said Friday morning.

“We had to reroute a lot of our resources,” he said.

Firefighters responded to a structure fire in Halifax at the Waegwoltic Club in the city’s south-end, and two separate brush fires in Fall River and on Prospect Road.

All three fires are considered “out,” though firefighters remain on scene to put out hot spots.

Steeves said there was “minimal growth” at the Tantallon fire overnight, which was last estimated to be 837 hectares in size. More than 200 structures have been seriously damaged or destroyed by the flames, including about 150 homes.

With other fires in the area under control, Steeves said crew is hopefully “going to be able to make some ground” on further containing the fire in suburban Halifax.

At 4:00 p.m. Friday, an emergency alert was issued notifying residents of a partial evacuation rescind for the Tantallon-area wildfire.

A partial evacuation rescind was issued for the following areas:

  • Lucasville Road area, from Sackville Drive to Hammonds Plains Road and the area surrounding, including Timertrails
  • South of Hammonds Plains Road, down to St. George Blvd and Stillwater Lake area, south of Pinetree Crescent

Further details are available on a Halifax website.

Friday morning brought with it some long-sought-after precipitation in Tantallon.

“I’ve never been so happy to see rain as I was this morning,” Halifax deputy fire chief David Meldrum said during a news conference Friday morning.

“It’s great. It’s going to slow down fire spread today, but it’s not enough.”

Meldrum said that all humidity and precipitation is good news, but much more rain is needed in order to combat the extremely dry conditions across Nova Scotia.

“The precipitation this morning will buy us a few hours. It will give us an operational advantage to be more aggressive in some areas,” Steeves said.

The forest technician said it will only be a few hours before fire fuel like trees, vegetation and structures have dried up from the heat “and then we’re back in the same position we were in yesterday.”

“We are hopeful that there will be more precipitation to help our cause.” 

Meanwhile, firefighters are on scene in Shelburne County as the largest ongoing wildfire in Nova Scotia continues to burn out of control near Barrington Lake.

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

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