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Barrington Lake wildfire leaves lasting impact on community one year later

By Evan Taylor May 26, 2024 | 6:00 AM

Sunday marked the first anniversary of the breakout of the Barrington Lake Wildfire which destroyed 60 homes and over 250 square kilometres of woodland.

Barrington Warden Eddie Nickerson says the fire devastated his community but recovery efforts are going well.

He also says the fire which was the largest in Nova Scotia history has changed people’s attitudes towards fire safety.

“People are certainly more concerned, even when the burn ban is off people are still watching for smoke and thinking more about wildfires,” said Nickerson. “We don’t want something like this to happen again,”.

Over 200 volunteer firefighters responded to the fire by the time it was fully extinguished on July 26 and Nickerson made a point of hailing their vital role in keeping Barrington safe.

“There’s not enough we can say about the firefighters,” Nickerson said. “I think they have the utmost respect from the community, they’re willing to go at any time, and they put their lives on the line,”.

In recognition of the important role volunteer firefighters play the federal government doubled the volunteer firefighters’ tax credit nationwide. The tax credit increased from $3,000 to $6,000, saving volunteer firefighters up to $900 per year.

Charges over fire heading to trial

In January the province charged 22-year-old Dalton Clark Stewart with three charges under the Forests Act related to starting the fire, including:

  • lighting a fire on privately owned land without permission of the owner or occupier
  • failing to take reasonable efforts to prevent the spread of a fire
  • leaving a fire unattended

If found guilty persons charged under the Forests Act can be fined up to a maximum of $50,000.

Lawyers representing Dalton entered a not guilty plea for all three charges in March and Stewart is due backĀ in court in June to set a date for a trial.

The province also increased fines for people found violating burn bans up to $25,000 from $237.50.

Nickerson commended that move along with the additional support offered to volunteer firefighters from the federal volunteer firefighter tax rebate.