With Halifax-area wildfires 100% contained, some evacuees return home | CBC News

News Today || Canada News |

After a week of devastating damage, the wildfires in the Halifax area are now 100 per cent contained, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

In a release Sunday, DNR officials said the Tantallon-Westwood Hills fire is now at an estimated 950 hectares. Nearly 80 firefighters remain on scene.

An emergency alert issued shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday said residents of Glen Arbour could return to their homes immediately and people in the area east of Stillwater Lake could return at 4 p.m.

The alert said Hammonds Plains Road is closed and the Stillwater Lake area must be accessed from the Tantallon side. Glen Arbour must be accessed from the Bedford side, the alert said.


Residents of both areas will be required to provide ID to enter the area.

With the help of steady rain, fire crews were able to bring the fire to 85 per cent containment on Saturday.

A fire truck parked outside in the rain.
A Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency truck is shown at the wildfire command centre in Upper Tantallon, N.S., on Saturday. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

The fire damaged or destroyed 150 homes and more than 200 structures after breaking out last weekend.

A much smaller wildfire in Hammonds Plains, at just four hectares, is also contained, according to Sunday’s update.

The Halifax Regional Municipality announced Sunday that residents in “areas of significant impact” could visit the Canada Games Centre from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to see photos of damaged properties and speak with municipal staff about the status of their homes. Major insurance companies would also be on site, the news release said. 

The city said earlier Sunday that it was planning to let residents back to the area as soon “as it is safe to do so.” But those in the area of significant impact might still be unable to return for several days, the city said, saying safety assessments had to be done first. 

City installing new emergency exits

Meanwhile, Halifax Regional Municipality is using powers granted by the state of local emergency to install two permanent emergency exits in the Haliburton Hills and Highland Park subdivisions.

An earthmover and on a gravel clearing with a highway 103 exit sign in the background.
Heavy equipment works on the Haliburton Hills emergency exit to connect Buckingham Drive to Highway 103. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

The Haliburton Hills exit, which will connect the Buckingham Drive to Highway 103, is already under construction.

The clearing in Highland Park, which will go from the end of Sylvania Terrace to the Hammonds Plains Road, will begin once it is safe to do so, officials say.

More routes needed, says councillor

Pam Lovelace, the municipal councillor for the Hammonds Plains area, said when the communities were being designed, there was no “real consideration” for safety measures to ensure residents could be evacuated from the area if the main route were to be cut off.

There’s a lot more work that needs to be done.— Pam Lovelace

She said residents have been speaking about the issue for decades.

“More evacuation routes are needed for Westwood Hills, White Hills, Glen Arbour, Maplewood and Upper Hammonds Plains,” Lovelace said. “There’s a lot more work that needs to be done.”

Three firefighters in the burnt out woods.
Three Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency firefighters work to put out fires in the Tantallon area on May 30. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Speaking at a news conference Sunday afternoon, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said public safety is now a planning priority for new communities, and older communities “probably need more support than they have” for getting people out.

Savage said some recent development proposals have been turned down because they did not include sufficient ways of getting residents out in an emergency.

“As we… build, we need to make sure that we have safety emergency preparedness but also environmental concerns front of mind,” he said.

“We have a need for housing in this community… but we’re going to do it safely.”

Emergency exits now a consideration in new developments, Savage says

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said every development council looks at is ‘very much connected’ with the city’s fire and emergency officials to ensure there are enough ways in and out.

Lovelace said it’s not possible to give a timeline for the completion of the new routes while emergency work is still taking place in the evacuated zone. 

Changes to restrictions on travel, activities in woods

On Sunday afternoon, the province lifted restrictions on travel and activities in the woods in all areas except for Shelburne County and anywhere evacuation orders are in place, effective at midnight.

“We know that using our woods and trails are important to many Nova Scotians’ physical and mental health,” Tory Rushton, the minister of natural resources, said in a media release.

“Thanks to the weather, conditions have improved in the province, but we still need to be cautious.”

Activities that are now permitted include hiking, camping, fishing and the use of vehicles in the woods. The provincewide burn ban remains in place and the fine for a violation is $25,000.

Deputy chief sums up the past week of Halifax-area firefighting

Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Deputy Chief David Meldrum described the range of emotions and circumstances that firefighters in the Halifax area have been dealing with for the past week.

Latest Canadian News Today & Breaking Headlines – Check More

Today News || News Now || World News || US Headlines || Health || Technology News || Education News


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button