Weather conditions ground aircraft covering Shelburne County wildfire
The largest wildfire in Nova Scotia history is still out of control, the province said Monday afternoon.
The Barrington Lake blaze started May 28 and now covers more than 24,900 hectares of Shelburne County — roughly 200 kilometres southwest of Halifax.
Rain over the weekend helped but it's not clear how much, said Scott Tingley, a forestry manager with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
Crews are getting an idea of the rain's impact but are doing so on foot or in a vehicle. As of Monday morning, Tingley said aircraft were grounded because of weather.
“As soon as they get a window, they’ll get up, have a look,” said Tingley in an interview.
Going forward, aircraft will be primarily used for observation and for transporting firefighting gear, a Department of Natural Resources and Renewables spokesperson working out of Shelburne said Monday.
“At this time, I don’t anticipate the use or the need of the aircraft bombers any time soon,” he said, thanks to about 90 millimetres of rain that’s recently fallen in the region.
“We will be switching to more observation, recon tactics with our helicopter fleet and with the rental fleet that’s in the area. We still will have boots on the ground for a while now. We’ll be using aircraft to sling gear into the woods and sling gear out of the woods and also move crews for this very large area,” Rockwood said.
A second wildfire in Shelburne County, near Lake Road in the municipality of Shelburne, is under control and covers.
A wildfire in northwest Halifax is 100 per cent contained but has displaced thousands and destroyed at least 150 homes.
“Contained" means firefighters are confident the fire’s perimeter isn’t going to grow.
“The work now is to fully extinguish the interior of that fire,” Tingley said.
In Shelburne County, a number of structures have also been lost, and at the height of evacuations, 5,500 people were displaced.
Firefighters from the Northeastern United States arrive in Shubenacadie, NS, on Saturday, June 3, 2023, to assist with fighting wildfires in Nova Scotia. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kelly Clark)
Firefighters from New England arrived in Nova Scotia over the weekend and are now in Shelburne County, he said. Between provincial crews, volunteers, and the Americans, about 150 firefighters are onsite.
While it’s what they train for, Tingley said the past week has been challenging.
“Emotionally, this has been a tough road for everybody,” said Tingley. The impacts are widespread and “everybody’s got a connection to it.”
He said the weekend’s rain has been a morale boost.
Tingley says DNRR is working with public works in Shelburne County to see when it will be safe to reopen roads and get people back into the area. The fire collapsed a bridge in the area last week.
The local warden for the Municipality of Barrington, Eddie Nickerson, said all evacuees should remain clear of the affected areas for safety reasons.
“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,” Nickerson said in a recent interview with CTV News.
While firefighters continue to work on the Barrington Lake wildfire, people are being asked to continue to avoid the remaining evacuated zones and do not return to your property until alerted.
Barringon: As of 3:30 p.m. Monday, the mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted for 2794 Highway 3 (Saint Phillip’s Roman Catholic Church/Downey Brook) up to and including 1225 Port Latour Rd. -- including Reynoldscroft, Eel Bay, and Blanche.
This also includes Oak Park Road, River Road, Villagedale Road, Barrington, Smithsville, and Baccaro. Residents from McGill Road (McGill Lake area of Upper Clyde Road to 2461 Upper Clyde Rd.) can also return home.
The roadblock at Exit 30 on Highway 103 remains in place.
Shelburne: As of 3:40 p.m., the mandatory evacuation order for the following areas has been lifted: Exit 27 at Birchtown along Highway 3, Shore Road to 1634 Shore Road, Gunning Cove.
The roadblock at Exit 27 on Highway 103 remains in place.
Public schools in the county remain closed Monday and Tuesday. The school district says it will give an update Tuesday.
The Roseway Hospital and Shelburne Community Health Centre will re-open Tuesday.
For the latest Nova Scotia news, visit our dedicated provincial page.
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