Thousands remain evacuated amidst now contained Halifax wildfires

wildfire at night Photo by anthony heflin/Shutterstock

Thousands of Halifax residents were ordered to evacuate following a wildfire outbreak that began on May 28.

After spreading uncontrollably over the past week, the blaze is now contained within an area of approximately 950 hectares. The fires have claimed around 200 structures, an estimated 150 of which were homes.

At the fire’s worst, 16,492 residents were evacuated from numerous neighborhoods, mainly Upper Tantallon, Hammond Plains, and Pockwock. Currently, 4,100 residents remain evacuated. Residents of Indigo Shores were the first allowed to return home following the first reductions in evacuation orders on May 31. Evacuation orders have been lifted for several other areas since then. 

At the peak of the wildfire, the blaze was fought by personnel from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency (HRFE) crews, with assistance from the Department of National Defence, the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, and more. Currently, HRFE crews remain on scene in Tantallon. 

Emergency personnel are continuing to work around the clock to extinguish the unprecedented wildfire, though the operation has moved into the recovery phase, which includes testing soil and air quality

The fire did not reach the coast where many cottagers own property in the province, but there are many things that both in and out-of-province property owners can do to protect their cottages from wildfires as fire season progresses. 

Tips for protecting your property against wildfires:

  • Store gasoline and other flammable liquids in approved containers and away from occupied buildings. Make sure valves are shut off
  • Clean your roof and gutters regularly, and rake up flammable debris around property
  • Install spark arresters on chimneys and stove pipes
  • No tree limbs within three meters of the flue or chimney, and remove any limbs to a height of 3–4.5 metres. 
  • Have easy access to fire tools: shovel, rake, bucket, and roof ladder 
  • Ensure roads and driveways are at least five metres wide and shrubs are 4.5 metres apart 
  • Have your civic number posted at the driveway entrance 
  • Ensure your property has at least two entrance/exits routes
  • Connect your garden hose to an exterior tap
  • Dispose of fireplace and stove ashes in a fire safe container
  • Store combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, and boats away from the house

Find more information and updates on the Halifax wildfires here.

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