Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia blows through budget for fighting forest fires

This summer's forest fire season could cost Nova Scotia two to three times more than it budgeted to fight forest fires, says the province's Department of Natural Resources.

'Expensive' out-of-province water bombers drive up the cost, says Natural Resources official

The Seven Mile Lake fire has been helped by gusting winds and extremely dry conditions. (Communications Nova Scotia)

This summer's forest fire season could cost Nova Scotia two to three times more than it budgeted to fight forest fires, says the province's Department of Natural Resources.

"Our typical budget is $650,000," regional services director Walter Fanning said Friday.

"The majority of that was used up last week."

On Saturday, officials believed the Seven Mile Lake fire had burned 90 hectares. By Friday, it ripped through 395 hectares. (CBC)

'Expensive' water bombers

Firefighters have battled the stubborn Seven Mile Lake forest fire since Aug. 4.

Water bombers from out of the province had to be brought in to help.

"It is expensive to run those," Fanning said, pegging the cost at $200,000 a day.

A water bomber douses the forest above the Seven Mile Lake fire in Annapolis County. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Very extreme conditions

The decision to call in help is based on the size of the forest fire and the conditions. A fire weather index of 23 is considered extreme. This summer, that index in Nova Scotia is in the mid-40s.

Sometimes provinces such as New Brunswick and Newfoundland allow certain forest fires to burn themselves out, but Fanning said Nova Scotia doesn't have large enough remote areas to allow that.

"If we let the fire go here, it would ... very quickly start to impact people, homes and public safety," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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