Nova Scotia challenged by extensive out of control wildfires, premier bans all activity in forests

BC Wildfires. Image credit: Unsplash Christopher Burns

Halifax/CMEDIA: All activity in forests in Nova Scotia has been banned as of Tuesday due the extensive wildfire damage, Premier Tim Houston was reported saying.

Houston joined a news conference Tuesday afternoon virtually from Shelburne County, where wildfires have reached more than 10,300 hectares in size.

“Today in Shelburne County at the command centre, there’s a great deal of concern over this fire. This fire continues to grow,” Houston said.

Approximately 200 homes or structures near Halifax that began burning Sunday in the Upper Tantallon, N.S., area have been damaged by the wildfire, according to preliminary estimates.

Due to the ongoing firefighting efforts, Houston reportedly said that all activity in the province’s woods including hiking, camping, fishing, use of off-highway vehicles, forestry, hunting and more are prohibited.

The cause of the ongoing fires remains under investigation, Scott Tingley, manager of forest protection with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, said.

“It’s safe to say that it’s very likely human-caused for all these fires, therefore much of it is probably preventable,” Tingley said during Tuesday’s news conference.

The premier said there were six illegal burns reported Monday evening and pleaded with Nova Scotians not to disobey the provincial burn ban. 

Tingley said there are 13 active wildfires, eight of which started Monday with the largest, in Shelburne County surpassing 10,000 hectares in size and is presenting a “very challenging situation” for firefighters. 

Fires in the Tantallon area, Shelburne County and in Pubnico remain out of control.

“We have very, very hot, dry weather again…Crews are being challenged by the fire behaviour…working very, very hard to prioritize resources and try to minimize those impacts” Tingley said, adding that communities and homes remain at risk.

A high risk of fire spread due to dry, hot and windy conditions remains, David Steeves, a forest resources technician with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, said.

According to the new restrictions on activity in the woods which apply to crown and private land, Nova Scotians can access beaches, provincial and municipal parks, but trail systems are off limits and camping is allowed only in campgrounds. While private landowners are free to use their own properties, they cannot host others in the wooded areas of their property.

Forestry, mining and any commercial activity on crown land is also restricted. Forestry companies working on crown land can only work between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.

These restrictions are in place until at least June 25. 

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