HALIFAX — Fire officials in Nova Scotia say the uncontained wildfire in suburban Halifax has remained stable, but they warn the return of dry, windy conditions Tuesday could lead to a “reburn” in evacuated subdivisions.
“We are expecting a bit of a weather shift,” David Steeves, a forest resources technician with Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources, told a news conference at a command post in Upper Tantallon, N.S.
“We are expecting a significant level of fire behaviour …. It’s going to be an increasingly dangerous situation for the firefighters who are on the ground.”
Halifax deputy fire Chief David Meldrum said firefighters spent the night extinguishing hot spots in neighbourhoods where 200 homes and structures have been damaged since the fire started Sunday. It remains unclear how many homes have been destroyed because surveys have yet to be completed.
In all, about 16,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes, most of whom live about a 30-minute drive northwest of the port city’s downtown. The area under mandatory evacuation orders covers about 100 square kilometres.
With the weather forecast calling for southwesterly winds gusting at 30 kilometres per hour, the concern is that the eight-square-kilometre fire will retrace its original route and set fire to what hasn’t already burned, Steeves said.
Trees and other flammable materials in the affected subdivisions have been “cured” by extreme heat, which means they will readily ignite if the fire returns, he said.
“The fuels that haven’t been consumed the first time that the fire went over, now are ready to burn,” he said. “The possibility of reburn … could create a very dangerous environment.”
Meanwhile, the extended forecast is calling for hotter weather on Wednesday and no rain until Friday at the earliest.
Meldrum said Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency had six fire engines, 10 tanker trucks and 60 firefighters battling the fire, with the help of crews aboard three helicopters.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press