Cole Harbour, N.S., forest fire forces overnight evacuation of 10 homes

Fire crews monitored a forest fire burning in an area off Bissett Road in Cole Harbour, N.S., overnight and planned to resume battling the fire at dawn if needed.

Some evacuees allowed to return home but warned to be ready to leave quickly if fire worsens

A Department of Natural Resources helicopter scoops up lake water to dump on a forest fire burning in an area known as the Shearwater Flyer Trail in Cole Harbour. (Submitted by Adam Butt)

Fire crews in Nova Scotia monitored a forest fire burning in an area off Bissett Road in Cole Harbour overnight and some residents of two nearby streets spent the night away from home. 

The fire had covered an estimated six to eight hectares in an area known as the Shearwater Flyer Trail by Sunday evening. RCMP went door-to-door on Lakeridge Crescent and part of Astral Drive asking people to leave.

Halifax Fire said 75 to 100 households were affected by the voluntary evacuation in the Halifax Regional Municipality neighbourhood. It has not released any information about the cause of the fire.

Jessica Booth and her husband packed up a few belongings and left their home a few hours after spotting smoke beyond their yard. They had initially planned to stay but say police told them to leave. 

"I'm feeling like I'd like to be home. It's very unfortunate that there's so many people displaced," she said.

"We grabbed laptops and photos and things like that, put them in the car. A change of clothes for the morning. Hopefully we're back in by then."

An aerial view of the forest fire in Cole Harbour on Sunday afternoon. (Submitted by Caroline Larocque)

Halifax Fire said it would be patrolling the area through the night and one fire truck remained at the end of Astral Drive.

RCMP vehicles were stationed at the corner of Lakeridge Crescent and Astral Drive and planned to remain there overnight. 

About 65 Halifax Fire service members and 20 Department of Natural Resource firefighters worked through the afternoon and early evening on Sunday to contain the blaze.

Deputy fire Chief Roy Hollett said due to safety concerns for the crews, they wouldn't continue full-fledged fire fighting efforts through the night.

The fire has been a challenge to contain and was still considered out of control Sunday evening.

Fire vehicles are shown leaving the area in Cole Harbour where a forest fire is burning. (CBC)

Two helicopters spent several hours scooping up lake water and dumping it on the brush. 

"It's moving pretty quick through the trees ... Halifax Fire has multiple units — tankers and firefighters. But right now, we are not in position to be in front of the fire," Hollett said prior to crews slowing down at dusk. 

Hollett said crews were also working with the Department of Natural Resources to get an aerial evaluation of where the fire was heading. 

Police and fire personnel plan to monitor neighbourhoods near the forest fire in Cole Harbour overnight. (CBC)

Crews will return at daybreak if needed, said Natural Resources spokesperson Bruce Nunn. Colder temperatures overnight were expected to slow the fire, he said. Environment Canada had issued a frost warning for the area. 

It also issued a special air quality statement due to elevated pollution levels from to the fire. It warns people who live in the area that they may experience throat irritation, headaches and shortness of breath.

"Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk," the statement said.

At one point, people on Beaver Crescent were advised to leave their homes. Shortly after 9 p.m., Halifax Fire confirmed those residents were allowed to return home and remain in their homes overnight. However, the fire service warned people had to be prepared to leave on short notice.

Evacuees were asked to go to Cole Harbour Place at 51 Forest Hills Parkway to receive updates on the fire. Volunteers at the comfort centre served coffee and snacks until it closed at 11 p.m.

Officials said people were staying with family and friends and the centre would be reopening Monday morning at 8 a.m.

Due to safety concerns, Halifax Fire won't resume efforts to contain the fire until daybreak. (CBC)

Lisa Auby lives on Rockhaven Court, just off Lakeridge Crescent.

"There's a lot of places evacuated around us so we're packed up and ready to go. If they tell us to leave, we're going to leave. So we'll wait and see what happens. We're hoping we don't have to," she said. "We're just hoping for the best."

Crews began fighting the forest fire at about 5 p.m. AT.

A fire engine and police car were at the corner of Lakeridge Crescent and Astral Drive on Sunday as residents were asked to leave their homes due to a spreading forest fire in Cole Harbour. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

Pam McDonald said there was a lot of smoke in her Cole Harbour neighbourhood.

"I live on Astral Drive and we can see smoke down past Colby South. There's some fire engines and police cars going down our street," she said.

Laura Watson, who lives about a five-minute drive from Bissett Road on Cow Bay Road, said smoke was heavy in her neighbourhood from about 4 p.m. Sunday.

RCMP went door-to-door on part of Astral Drive, Beaver Crescent and Lakeridge Crescent in Cole Harbour advising people to leave their homes. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

"We heard sirens going past, we could see the smoke coming up. We looked out in our backyard and it was almost like a haze, a fog. We started seeing flakes of ashes fall down to the deck. Thankfully, there were no burning embers," Watson said.

She said she and her fiancé will be keeping an eye on what is happening with the fire throughout the night.

"We just want to make sure we're safe and all our family and friends are safe too," Watson said.

Smoke from the forest fire reached Cow Bay by late afternoon and ash was falling from the sky as well, one resident told CBC News. (Submitted by Laura Watson)

With files from Marina von Stackelberg, Shaina Luck, Mairin Prentiss