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One of eight aircraft from New Brunswick that drops a mix of water and fire retardant makes a pass over the fire near Barrington Lake, Shelburne County. (Communications NS Photo)

Shelburne fire now 230 square kilometres, heavy smoke in many areas

By Kevin Northup Jun 2, 2023 | 7:34 AM

The Shelburne fire is now a remarkable 23,000 hectares and smoke is causing major problems in surrounding communities.

More than 130 firefighters are battling the complexities of three fires in the region with air support a necessity.

Natural Resources spokesperson Dave Rockwood says they will be monitoring an anticipated northern shift in the wind Friday evening that will likely send the fire closer to Barrington.

“We are hoping to get some air resources closer to the head of the fire as conditions improve,” Rockwood said. “When we are ready to do that it’s imperative people are not in the area, we’ve already had multiple water bombing runs called off because of people in the area, and structures have been destroyed as a result,”.

Rockwood emphasized the importance of staying out of the wood throughout the weekend so firefighters and other emergency responders can do their job unimpeded.

“Terrifying fire behaviour. It’ gone back and forth over numerous areas at times. Even some aircraft haven’t been able to do anything in certain areas,” said Rockwood.

He says they’ve had problems with people going back into evacuated zones to check on their properties.

Rockwood urges people to stay away so crews can do their job.

“We have lost structures because people have gone into these areas to try and find out for themselves what’s going on.”

Rockwood believes over the next day they’ll start informing the municipality about the number of homes lost.

He’s thankful rain is on the way this weekend, but says we’re still in it for the long haul.

Fires on Lake Road in Shelburne and in East Pubnico are being ‘hammered hard’ by crews, but they’re not out of the woods yet.

Click play below to hear the full interview with Dave Rockwood:

Half of Shelburne County has been evacuated due to wildfires.

RCMP say almost 7,000 people are displaced as the fires continue to grow.

It includes evacuations at Roseway Hospital and Bayview Seniors Home.

An air quality advisory remains in effect.

DNRR firefighter Walter Scott of Churchover, Shelburne County, sprays the ground while the water bomber flies by to dump a load of water on the fire. (Communications Nova Scotia photo)

The Municipality of Barrington and Town of Clark’s Harbour telling residents to be prepared to leave at a moments notice in case more evacuations are needed.

Barrington CAO Chris Frotten says the thousands already evacuated are wondering what the status of their home is.

“And taking note of the civic addresses that have been damaged or destroyed. Once they do that, we’ll get in contact with the residents or property owners and notify them. There’s no timeline on this, and we’re still working out how this will be done,” said Frotten in a video statement.

Frotten says it will likely be seven days before evacuees can return home.

Preliminary estimates say 50 homes were destroyed in the area.

Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena offering comfort for evacuees:

A lot of displaced families are using the Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena in Barrington.

Christine Doucette is helping out with serving meals and supplies.

She says the Red Cross and municipal workers are there 24/7.

“We have a lot of space, we have fields and campers and tents that people are using. Anyone and everyone is welcome,” said Doucette.

She noticing different faces each day, and they’ve received a lot of donations.

Province predicts lots of infrastructure damage

The province’s Public Works Minister expects significant infrastructure damage in Shelburne County.

Kim Masland was asked about the bridge connecting Port Clyde and Clyde River that was destroyed.

She says it was a timber bridge.

“The bridges in that area would be mostly timber bridges, so we certainly expect further damage.” said Masland after Cabinet.

She noted it’s too early to know the full extent of the damage, as the focus is on putting out the fire.

Asked about rough sections on Highway 203, the quickest route from Shelburne to Yarmouth, Masland says it’s passable with caution.

She didn’t rule out sending crews to patch-up rough spots.

Geddes Bridge in Port Clyde was wiped out by the wildfire (RCMP Photo)

Bay Side Home residents moved to Yarmouth

Over 60 residents of Bay Side Home in Barrington are now in Yarmouth.

They were re-located to NSCC Burridge Campus as a precaution due to the wildfires.

Classrooms have been converted, and many spent hours unloading beds and equipment.

Principal Mary Thompson commends her staff.

“(Thursday) morning, when I told everyone about this at 8:30, ten minutes later they were moving furniture and getting ready. This was a true team effort,” said Thompson.

Thompson says they’ve put cots in the staff room for Bay Side staff, and small campers are welcome in the parking lot.

Thompson says a couple of NSCC Shelburne staff are also in Yarmouth, the campus had to be evacuated Wednesday.

Health Minister comments on Roseway Hospital evacuation:

Wednesday night’s evacuation of Roseway Hospital in Shelburne went smoothly.

Now the focus turns to making sure residents have access to care.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson says they’re looking at all the logistics.

“Where can staff be re-allocated, how we can support other hospitals such as Queens General. It’s a very fluid situation, but there is an EHS plan to help re-allocate. It’s constantly evolving,” said Thompson after Cabinet Thursday.

15 inpatients were transported to Fisherman’s Memorial and South Shore regional hospitals.

Comfort centres continue to help evacuees:

Comfort centres are set up in the following locations:

Shelburne Community Centre: 63 King Street, Shelburne
Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena: 12 Park Lane, Barrington
Yarmouth Fire Hall: 221 Pleasant Street, Yarmouth
Provincial campsites are also available to those who have been evacuated.
Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park: 902-761-2400
Thomas Raddall Provincial Park: 902-683-2664

The comfort centre at the Yarmouth Fire Hall has seen a lot of donations.

Co-ordinator Peggy Boudreau says people have been very generous with food donations.

“We’ve registered a few people that have stayed overnight, and we do have some pets here. The firefighters have been great, they’re helping a lot. And the Wesleyan Church have been facilitating,” said Boudreau.

Boudreau says lots are coming to stay in hotels and then coming to the centre for food and other items.

She says they could still use some clothing donations.

To donate, go through the Yarmouth Wesleyan Church.

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