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Chopper pilot refuels before more water drops. NS Gov’t photo.

Indigo Shores residents can return home, other evacuation orders remain

By Joe Thomson May 31, 2023 | 10:13 AM

The Tantallon wildfire remains out of control at 837 hectares and to prevent any more burning in the province, the fine for breaking the burn ban is now at $25,000.

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Deputy Chief Dave Meldrum says they have increased their resources for today to combat the blaze amid sustained warm and dry conditions.

There are more than 170 firefighters on scene, as well as three helicopters.

The newest fire in Hammonds Plains near Farmers Dairy facility, is now 80% contained.

There are still more than 20 with one helicopter on that fire.

“I did have the opportunity to drive through that district this morning on the way to this site, and at about 6:30 This morning, things look very good,” said Meldrum in regard to the Farmers Dairy fire.

HRFE Deputy chief Dave Meldrum addresses media this morning at the Tantallon fire command centre.

The efforts to combat the Farmers Dairy fire has been combined with the Tantallon command centre. Residents of that area remain on a 30-minute evacuation notice, after the original evacuation notice was rescinded last night.

Approximately 200 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the Tantallon area, of which 151 are homes. Over 16,000 people have been evacuated.

Indigo Shores removed from evacuation list.

Residents of Indigo Shores can return home as of 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Residents can only enter through Margeson Drive with ID showing their address.

Indigo Shores area. Residents are allowed back home.

All other evacuation orders and pre-evacuation orders remain in place.

The latest map of the evacuation zone in Tantallon:

The latest map of the evacuation zone in Tantallon and Upper Hammonds Plains (Photo credit: @hfxgov on Twitter).

Of the 151 damaged or destroyed homes, the majority are located in the orange area of significant impact. Evacuees from that area have been asked to register with 311 to receive information about the unfolding situation, and to help officials figure out whose homes were lost.

Anyone in the yellow zone must be ready to leave quickly and should pack enough for 72 hours. You can call 311 or check @hfxgov for more information on where you can find shelter.

Additionally, HRM is asking all evacuees to register with 311 by filling out the online form. Staff will then follow up with residents who have registered when more information becomes available.

School closures:

Based on their location in the Fire Evacuation Area, the following schools will remain closed for the rest of the week:

  • Hammonds Plains Consolidated
  • Madeline Symonds Middle School

Based on their location in the Local State of Emergency Zone and/or proximity to active fires, the following schools are closed tomorrow, June 1:

  • Bay View High School
  • Tantallon Junior Elementary
  • Tantallon Senior Elementary
  • Five Bridges Junior High
  • St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary
  • Kingswood Elementary
  • Charles P. Allen High School
  • Basinview Drive Community School
  • Bedford South School
  • Harry R. Hamilton Elementary
  • Millwood Elementary
  • Millwood High School
  • Sackville Heights Elementary
  • Sackville Heights Junior High


Weather conditions create dangerous environment for firefighters

With wind gust up to 25km/h from the southwest and relatively low humidity coming in at about 20 percent, DNRR Forestry Technician Dave Steeves says it will be a hard day for firefighters in the area.

He explained that any wind coming from the South is drying wind, and that it will eat away at the remaining moisture in the fuels on the ground. that can allow the fire to be carried to other locations.

The combination of strong wind, high temperature, and low humidity creates what Steeves called a crossover environment. The crossover phenomenon allows for extreme fire behavior as fine fuels can be ignited more easily and the fire is able to spread very quickly.

“Because we do have winds gusting up to 25, and a crossover environment, today could be a day that is very dangerous for the folks on the ground,” said Steeves.

DNRR Forestry Technician Dave Steeves speaks to media at a press briefing this morning.

He said that ground commanders will have to remain extremely vigilant of their surroundings and have a high situational awareness in order to protect their crews.

N.S. banning all activities in the woods to prevent more fires

Yesterday, Premier Tim Houston announced the province is banning people from going into the woods or on trails to reduce the potential for more fires.

The ban covers hiking, fishing, camping, ATV’ing and comes as firefighters are drained after battling the large forest fires in Tantallon and Shelburne since Sunday.

People can still access beaches and provincial and municipal parks, but trail systems are off limits. Camping is allowed only in campgrounds.

The restrictions apply to Crown and private land

“We have to do what we can to make sure we don’t have any new fires,” said Premier Tim Houston.

The woods ban came into effect as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Eight illegal fires were reported in HRM Tuesday night. This comes after Houston plead with everyone to obey a universal burn ban in our province after six illegal burn calls were reported on Monday night.

There is a zero-tolerance policy during the burning ban, and the fine has now been upped to $25,000. Anyone responsible for fire spread, will be required to pay all expenses that are related, including extinguishing.

The burn ban means no campfires of any kind, fireworks, or brush burning and is in place until June 25 or unless otherwise indicated.

HRM is also strongly recommending people stay off the roads. In their update on Tuesday night, the municipality is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

Parks Canada sites closed 

The province has banned activities in wooded areas including these Parks Canada sites:

  • All trails in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
  • Backcountry camping at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
  • Kejimkujik Seaside National Park
  • York Redoubt National Historic Site
  • Melanson Settlement National Historic Site

What remains open:

  • Front-country camping, beaches and day-use areas (including Jake’s Landing equipment rentals) at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
  • National historic sites including Halifax Citadel, Fort Anne, Port-Royal, Grand-Pré and Fort Edward

A full fire ban continues to be in effect at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. No open fires are permitted. This includes campfires, charcoal barbecues, and any open flame (ie, candles). Propane/gas camp stoves, barbeques, fire pits and lanterns are permitted on campsites but should be used with caution. While smoking is not prohibited, it is imperative that smokers dispose of their cigarette butts properly. Fireworks and sparklers are fire hazards and are prohibited at Parks Canada-administered places.

Public safety is Parks Canada’s first priority. These legal restrictions support the Province of Nova Scotia’s recent restrictions in wooded areas to reduce the risk of wildfires across Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Liberals urge PCs to seek federal support

Meanwhile, opposition leader Zach Churchill is calling on the Houston government to ask Prime Minister Trudeau for extra resources to combat the blaze.

He says federal help is needed as the situation remains precarious with no rain forecasted until the weekend.

“Alberta has called on the federal government to provide assistance with their wildfire, we need to the same right now. The situation is not under control,” said Churchill.

In addition to extra resources, Churchill says communication and logistical support is also needed, as misinformation is spreading on social media.

MLA for Shelburne Nolan Young says the province hasn’t turned away help, and is working with the feds on additional resources for the fire raging in that part of the province.

Trudeau says wildfires are ‘heartbreaking’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has shock, awe and empathy for those affected by the wildfires.

Trudeau told reporters the fires are devastating and as a Federal Government they will be there.

“The stories and the images we are seeing coming out Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are heartbreaking…we know people are extremely, extremely, distressed by what’s going on,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau says local MP’s are active on the ground as much as possible as Ottawa continues to look at ways they can be there for people. He said they’ve asked the public service to give technical updates to all party leaders so they know exactly what is going on, what Ottawa’s response is and contribute more ideas.

The following schools will be closed on Wednesday, May 31
  • Bedford South Elementary School
  • Basinview Drive Community School
  • Bay View High School
  • Tantallon Junior Elementary
  • Tantallon Senior Elementary
  • Five Bridges Junior High
  • St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary
  • Kingswood Elementary
  • Hammonds Plains Consolidated
  • Madeline Symonds Middle School
  • Charles P. Allen High School
  • Harry R. Hamilton Elementary
  • Millwood Elementary
  • Millwood High School
  • Sackville Heights Elementary
  • Sackville Heights Junior High

RCMP warn of scams

With multiple wildfires continuing to rage in Nova Scotia, the RCMP is asking people to remain vigilant of fraud.

Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay warned that scammers often take advantage of natural disasters to prey on people in vulnerable situations.

“As with any significant incidents, as before with the hurricanes, there could be scams that could be popping up here and there,” said Tremblay.

He reminded everyone to make sure they get their information from trusted sources, and to always be suspicious of strange phone calls.

Mental health professionals available to help

On Tuesday, a mobile mental health clinic will be set up at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax for those impacted by the wildfires.

The LifeWorks Crisis Support Line is open 24/7 and can be reached at 1-844-751-2133 for professional emotional support.

All residents who have been required to evacuate are reminded they must register with 311 (toll-free at 1.800.835.6428) as staff will follow up when more information becomes available.

Red Cross

If you have had to evacuate due to the wildfires, you may be eligible for financial aid. The Government of Canada is providing a one-time payment of $500, being administered through the Red Cross.

Only one application and payment per household is allowed and to be eligible the household must have been evacuated from their primary home by order from a municipality or from a police, fire or local or provincial emergency management official.
If you have not been evacuated, but would like to help, the Canadian Red Cross has launched the Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada Fires Appeal. It’s to help the most impacted people, from the affected areas. The extent of the support will only be known once it becomes more clear of what needs are and how much money will be raised.

To apply or donate you can go online to redcross.ca or call 1-800-418-1111, phone lines are open 7 days a week 8a.m. to 8p.m.

With files from Steve MacArthur, Caitlin Snow & Evan Taylor


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