Nova Scotia

Local state of emergency declared as forest fire rages near Halifax

The Halifax Regional Municipality has declared a local state of emergency in communities affected by a large wildfire that has destroyed several homes. Thousands of residents in the community and surrounding area have been ordered to leave.

The Halifax Regional Municipality declared a local state of emergency in areas impacted by the wildfire

N.S. crews battle wildfire as residents evacuate area

4 months ago
Duration 1:00
Long lines of cars were seen leaving Upper Tantallon, N.S., as crews worked to contain a fast-moving wildfire.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has declared a local state of emergency in the communities affected by a massive wildfire that has caused thousands of evacuations, school closures and power outages just outside Halifax.

In a news release Sunday night, the municipality said the state of emergency would last seven days, "unless otherwise lifted or extended."

The municipality said declaring a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act, gives the municipality "a higher level of intergovernmental coordination, access to emergency discretionary funds, the ability to mobilize additional supports, organizations and businesses to support evacuated residents."

Mass evacuations

Nova Scotia RCMP have ordered residents of several subdivisions in the Upper Tantallon/Hammonds Plains area to leave their homes in the face of a fast-moving wildfire. The Westwood Hills subdivision in Upper Tantallon, N.S., was the first to begin an evacuation as the fire consumed at least 10 homes.

Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency District Chief Rob Hebb said dozens of crews were at the site attempting to control the fire. One helicopter was at the scene and another was on the way.

Deputy Chief Dave Meldrum said in an update Sunday night that there have been no injuries reported from the fire and described it as "not under control."

He said firefighters will have a better understanding of the size of the fire on Monday, when Nova Scotia Natural Resources and Renewables will conduct an aerial survey. 

Meldrum said people should be prepared to be away from their homes potentially for "an extended period of time."

"Our firefighters are going to be here for days and days. When this fire is knocked down, there is still a lot of work to be done to dig out any hidden fire in the ground ... this will be a prolonged operation and folks should be prepared for that."

Meldrum said residents need to be vigilant about being fire safe by not doing any outdoor burning and carefully disposing of cigarettes. Domestic brush burning and campfires were banned in most of the province on Sunday.

Wildfires in N.S. are way up this year, official says

4 months ago
Duration 0:41
Kara McCurdy, a fire prevention officer with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, says Nova Scotia has had 176 wildfires so far this season compared to 70 at this time last year. McCurdy cites dry conditions and the 'spring dip' as contributing factors for the increase.

"Help us by not allowing more fires to start," Meldrum said.

Nova Scotia RCMP sent a tweet prior to an emergency alert being issued telling residents of the area to evacuate their homes immediately via Winslow Drive to Hammonds Plains Road.

Evacuation orders

Subsequent emergency alerts at 6:11 p.m., 7:41 p.m. and 10:20 p.m. AT said the evacuation order was extended to residents of:

  • Highland Park subdivision in nearby Yankeetown.
  • Haliburton Hills.
  • Glen Arbour.
  • Pockwock Road.
  • White Hills subdivision.
  • Lucasville Road to Sackville Drive.
  • Maplewood Voyageur Way, including St. George Blvd. and side streets.
  • McCabe Lake area.
  • Indigo Shores.

Residents were told to take their pets with them.

People are being asked to stay away from the area.

Photo of smoke over a wooded area with a Hammonds Plains and Bedford road sign in the foreground.
Fire officials said the fire had already consumed at least 10 homes and was spreading rapidly. (Katy Parsons/CBC)

Comfort centres

The following comfort centres will be open to help residents impacted by the fires in the Tantallon area:

  • Black Point and Area Community Centre at 8579 St Margarets Bay Road. The comfort centre is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Canada Games Centre at 26 Thomas Raddall Drive. The comfort centre is open until further notice.
  • Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre at 1583 Beaver Bank Road. The comfort centre is open beginning at 9 p.m. and will be open until further notice. 

Nova Scotia Power has temporarily disconnected electricity in the area to help first responders work safely.

"Our crews will continue to work safely to restore power to our affected customers as quickly as possible. Updates and restoration times can be found on our outage map," Jacqueline Klaus, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power told CBC News in an email.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising people who live near the fire to close all windows and doors, shut down air exchangers and stay inside until air quality conditions improve.

It is also advising people close to the fire to monitor the situation and be prepared to leave if needed. The municipality said people who need to evacuate should bring their pets, medications and supplies for 72 hours.

A map of Nova Scotia with areas around Pockwock, Middle Sackville, Hammonds Plains and Upper Tantallon highlighted in red.
This map highlights the areas affected by the wildfires. (CBC)
A map shows areas of Tantallon and Hammonds Plains area where power has been cut
Power is out in much of the evacuated areas due to fire, according to Nova Scotia Power's outage map. As of 8 p.m. AT on Sunday, more than 3,000 homes and businesses had lost their power due to fire in the areas of Upper Tantallon, Stillwater Lake and Yankeetown. A further 1,372 customers in the areas of Upper Hammonds Plains and Glen Arbour had lost their power because the outage was requested by authorities, according to the utility. (Nova Scotia Power)

School closures

The Halifax Regional Centre for Education said the following schools would be closed on Monday: 

  • Bay View High. 
  • Hammonds Plains Consolidated.
  • Kingswood Elementary. 
  • Tantallon Junior Elementary. 
  • Tantallon Senior Elementary.
  • Madeline Symonds Middle School.

Area resident Cynthia McKenzie said she left her home with her family and pets. She said they are safe and sheltered in a pet store.

McKenzie said she was cooking dinner when her husband said they had to leave immediately.

"It just happened so fast," she said. "I grabbed my animals as quick as I could and my photos and albums as best I could and got in the truck and headed out." 

She said the smoke and flames were so bad that they had to turn around and take another route to get out of the subdivision.

"You couldn't see your hand in front of you," she said.

Shawn Beaulieu, another resident of the area, said he and his son were out shopping and were told to turn around when they tried to return to the subdivision where his wife was.

Smoke from a wildfire is shown in the background of a photo of a  strip mall.
A photo taken Sunday shows smoke from fire in the area. (Dave Irish/CBC)

He said he and his son are taking temporary shelter at a restaurant in Upper Tantallon that opened its doors to evacuees.

"It's frustrating, but it's better to be alive," he said. The three were reunited later in the day.

Dark smoke in the sky.
Dark smoke from the wildfire in Upper Tantallon could be seen in downtown Halifax on Friday evening. (Colin Sandeman-Allen/

Environment Canada issued an air quality alert for Halifax Metro and Halifax County West shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday.

It said smoke from the fire in Upper Tantallon has reduced visibility and air quality in the area downwind of the fire. 

It said people respond differently to smoke and mild irritation and discomfort are common.

A view of flames over a forested areas with a lake in the foreground.
Residents of Westwood Hills and Yankeetown subdivisions were ordered to evacuate Sunday. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Fast-moving wildfire burning in Nova Scotia

4 months ago
Duration 0:41
Crews in Nova Scotia are working to contain a wildfire that has forced the evacuations of two subdivisions and sent thick plumes of smoke into the sky, leading to an air quality alert for the Halifax area.

The alert said people should take a break from the smoke at a community location with cool, clean air.

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said Sunday evening firefighters were fighting both the fire and the wind.

A line of cars with a sign that says Westwood Boulevard at the side of the road.
Residents are seen leaving on Sunday afternoon. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

"Winds shift to northerly this evening, but unfortunately, will remain breezy through the day on Monday," he said.

"Winds look set to become lighter Monday night and Tuesday."

Snoddon said there was a chance of isolated showers later Sunday, but they wouldn't be of much help to the firefighters. He said there isn't another significant chance of rain until Friday.

In addition to the wildfire in the Upper Tantallon and Hammonds Plains area, there is also an out of control wildfire in Shelburne County.

A line of cars heading away from a large plume of smoke.
Cars were seen heading away from the area on Sunday afternoon. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

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