N.S. implements provincewide ban on travel, activity in woods due to fires

Growing Shelburne County fire has prompted evacuation of more than 1,000 homes

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The Nova Scotia government has implemented a provincewide ban on all activity and travel within the province's woods.

Premier Tim Houston said effective 4 p.m. on Tuesday, activities such as hiking, camping, fishing and use of off-highway vehicles is prohibited. The ban also extends to the forestry and mining industries and other commercial activities on Crown land.

"We have to protect our resources where that's possible, and we're going to take whatever steps we can do to protect our resources."

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Houston said conservation officers reported six illegal burns on Monday night.

"This is absolutely ridiculous," he said. "It's just mind-boggling. So no burning. For God's sakes, stop burning. Stop flicking your cigarette butts out your car window, just stop it."

There are 13 active wildfires across the province, including three out-of-control fires in the Hammonds Plains area, Shelburne County and Pubnico.

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an-aircraft-flies-over-the-wildfire-in-shelburne-county/David Rockwood/Department of Natural Resources and Renewables via CBC

An aircraft flies over the wildfire in Shelburne County, N.S. (David Rockwood/Department of Natural Resources and Renewables)

Shelburne County fire

More than 1,000 homes and a nursing home have been evacuated in Shelburne County as an out-of-control forest fire continues burning for a fourth day.

The fire, which broke out on Saturday, is now covering an area of 14,810 hectares and is not contained. It's Nova Scotia's largest on record. In June 1976, a fire in Guysborough County lasted six days and burned 13,000 hectares.

Department of Natural Resources spokesperson David Rockwood said firefighters are facing "very challenging" hot and dry conditions.

He said the Shelburne County fire was "Nova Scotia's version of a western Canada fire."

The fire near Barrington Lake has prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes, up from an estimate of 450 on Monday.

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Rockwood said some structures have been damaged, but he does not know exactly how many or where they are. Plans are underway to try to assess numbers and locations Tuesday, he said.

fire-map-shelburne-county-wildfire/Department of Natural Resources via CBC

The pink area on the map shows the active fire perimeter as of Tuesday at 10 a.m., while the dotted red line shows the evacuation area. (Department of Natural Resources)

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Warren MacLeod, the CAO of the Municipality of the District of Shelburne, said the municipality is gathering contact information from evacuees, and when DNR is able to get into the affected area to tally the damage, they will share that information with residents.

"But that's going to be some time away because they're still fighting an active fire," he said.

Roseway Manor, a nursing home in Shelburne, is being voluntarily evacuated Tuesday due concerns about air quality. Sixty-six residents are being temporarily relocated, and staff at the facility are contacting families of residents.

MacLeod said firefighters are experiencing "very intense conditions," including difficulty getting into affected areas due to dense smoke.

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in Barrington and Shelburne, four helicopters and one water bomber.

Twenty firefighters from Nova Scotia who departed for the Northwest Territories a week and a half ago to assist in fighting fires there are now on their way home to help battle the Shelburne County fire and another fire that has damaged or destroyed at least 200 homes outside Halifax.

Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton told the CBC's Information Morning contracted helicopters are also heading to Shelburne County Tuesday morning, and more firefighters are expected to arrive from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as possibly another airplane from Newfoundland.

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The province is also looking to the northeastern United States for even more support, said Scott Tingley, the manager of forest protection with DNR.

Asked how close the province is to being beyond its capacity to cope with the fires, Tingley said that's already happened.

"These fires are beyond our resource capacity, and that's why we're prioritizing resources and that's why they remain out of control. And that's why we continue to ask for help and bring in additional resources."

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Mandatory evacuations

In a release sent out Tuesday evening, the Municipality of Barrington — located outside Shelburne County — said an estimated 2,000 people in the municipality have been told to evacuate their homes.

A mandatory evacuation order for east of 2794 Highway 3, Barrington, is in effect, which includes all of Oak Park Road and Factory Hill Road until the Shelburne County line.

Residents of Barrington who have been evacuated are being asked to check in at 902-637-7899.

Mandatory evacuation orders are also in place for all communities from Port Clyde through to Baccaro and along Highway 309 to the intersection of Oak Park Road and Highway 3 in Barrington West, and from 800 Upper Clyde Rd. to 2461 Upper Clyde Rd.

A reception centre has been set up at the Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena in Barrington, and comfort centres have been set up at the Shelburne Fire Hall and the Municipality of Barrington municipal building.

The municipality is asking residents who have left their homes to check in with the municipal office at 902-875-3544, extension 245, to let officials know they are safe and out of the fire zone. Anyone who needs help with the evacuation can call 902-875-8407.

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An evacuation centre has been set up at 63 King St. in Shelburne at the fire department auditorium.

Lobster season extended

MacLeod said many fishermen are based in the evacuation area, as well as several lobster pounds.

Since there is no power in the area, generators are being used to keep the pounds running, but some are concerned about what will happen to their lobster stock if generators run out of fuel. MacLeod said a contingency plan is being developed to refuel the generators.

The lobster fishing season for the area was set to end Wednesday, requiring all harvesters to remove their traps and any catch by the end of that day.

Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the season will be extended in lobster fishing areas 33 and 34 due to the fires. The extension is currently set to expire on June 2 at 11:59 p.m.

Pubnico fire

Another wildfire has begun burning in neighbouring Yarmouth County, in Pubnico.

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DNR said the fire is about 59 hectares and is out of control. Seven firefighters and one helicopter from the department are on the scene.

Tingley said Tuesday afternoon that fire is expected to grow.

Thumbnail courtesy of David Rockwood/Department of Natural Resources and Renewables via CBC.

This article was originally written and published by CBC News. It contains files from Frances Willick and the CBC's Information Morning.