Mandatory evacuation notices rescinded for parts of Bedford
Residents who were told to leave after a new wildfire erupted can now return home
A mandatory evacuation order that was issued for parts of Bedford, N.S., related to a new wildfire, has been rescinded — though officials are warning residents should be ready to leave again.
An emergency alert sent earlier Tuesday evening stated residents would have to leave. Another alert issued around 10:15 p.m. rescinded the mandatory evacuation and replaced it with a 30-minute notice to leave.
The following streets are affected:
- Olive Avenue.
- Bernard Street.
- Lewis Drive.
- Estelle Avenue.
- Farmers Dairy Lane.
- Giles Drive.
- Bluewater Road.
- Topsail Court.
- Command Court.
- Gary Martin Drive.
- Lasalle Court.
- Castlestone Drive.
- Hammonds Plains Road from the intersection of Giles Drive to the intersection of Larry Uteck Boulevard.
According to Halifax Fire Deputy Chief Roy Hollett, the 30-minute notice means people should be ready to leave their homes on short notice if the situation escalates.
"Please ensure you prepare your essentials and pets as required," the alert adds.
Over 100 people stayed at shelter
Sisters Debbie Shea and Diane Close were among the 109 people who stayed overnight Tuesday at the emergency shelter in the Canada Games Centre in Halifax.
It was the second time this week Shea has had to leave quickly due to a fire, describing her last few days as "hell on earth."
Shea left her home in Haliburton Hills when the Tantallton fire broke out Sunday, only grabbing her dog and purse. She went to stay with Close in the Bedford area, which then fell under Tuesday's evacuation order so they ended up at the shelter.
"You see stuff like this on the news … But when it happens to you at the spur of the moment, you're not prepared, you're in shock, it's disbelief," Shea said Wednesday morning alongside Close.
Having been through evacuations twice, Shea said her advice is to have an emergency bag on hand to grab quickly, not to panic, and "treat everybody with kindness."
Close said she was grateful to have her sister pointing out what to take and leave behind, while calming her down during their exit.
"I helped her and now she was helping me," Close said.
Waiting for update
The sisters planned to head back to Close's home Wednesday morning since the evacuation order had lifted, but Shea said it was still a "waiting game" to find out whether her own home was still standing.
A 30-minute precautionary evacuation notice issued just before 9 p.m.Tuesday remains in effect for residents on Viscount Run in Hammonds Plains, starting at the intersection of Spyglass up to and including Cloverleaf and Summerwood Lane.
A further alert will be sent if an evacuation is ordered.
Earlier Tuesday night, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage told CBC News three crews were at the Farmers Dairy building off the Hammonds Plains Road trying to tackle the fire.
Cause of fire not known
"They're soaking the area in front of the building," he told Mainstreet Halifax. "It's got everybody's full-time attention."
Savage said weather conditions on Tuesday haven't made things easy for firefighters, as crews continue to tackle flare-ups in Tantallon, and spot-fires around the city.
"We also had a fire in downtown Halifax, which was causing concern, and folks have been able to extinguish that one," said Savage.
It's still unclear what caused the fire near Farmers Dairy, but Savage is urging Haligonians to heed the burn ban in the province.
"We have fires that are starting from illegal burning. My advice to people is don't be stupid and don't be selfish," he said.
Crews in the Halifax Regional Municipality are already at capacity, and additional fires only further tax resources.
Halifax Fire Deputy Chief David Meldrum said the Farmers Dairy manufacturing plant has several ammonia tanks on site, which is why emergency officials were taking a "very defensive and cautious stance."
Ammonia stored at dairy
The wide evacuation radius was in part due to the risk of an ammonia leak, and not because of the size of the fire, which Meldrum noted is still much smaller than the fire still burning in the Tantallon area.
West Bedford resident Devin Sherrington had just returned home from work Tuesday evening when he received the notification to evacuate.
"Getting out was actually very, very challenging because the traffic was gridlocked in both directions for quite a long time." he said. "It was probably a 75-80 minute traffic wait for people to get out."
On the way to a friend's house outside the evacuation area, it dawned on him that he might not have a house to return to.
"The entire experience felt surreal," said Sherrington.
New fire erupted Tuesday evening
The new fire was reported early Tuesday evening on Hammonds Plains Road near the Farmers Dairy building.
While it's about six kilometres from the perimeter of the original Tantallon wildfire evacuation zone, it's considered a new fire.
Water bombers from Newfoundland and Labrador were redirected to that area. The area around Hammonds Plains Road from Farmers Dairy Lane to Giles Drive was shut down.
The Northwood care facility had been in the midst of returning residents to its Bedford campus on Ivany Place, located near the BMO Centre off the Hammonds Plains Road, when the fire broke out. They've since reversed course and are returning residents to Northwood's Halifax campus, according to CEO Janet Simm.
If the power or data on your device is low, get your wildfire updates on CBC Lite. It's our low-bandwidth, text-only website.
- A previous version of this story said an emergency alert sent earlier Thursday evening stated that residents in parts of Bedford, N.S., would have to leave. In fact, it was sent earlier Tuesday evening.May 31, 2023 3:15 AM AT
With files from Haley Ryan