HALIFAX – A wildfire that has damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in suburban Halifax is still burning out of control because of gusty winds and dry conditions.
Halifax deputy fire Chief David Meldrum said an estimated 14,000 people were told to flee their homes after the rapidly spreading fire broke out Sunday afternoon in Tantallon, a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown Halifax.
“This is a big fire,” he told a news conference Monday near a command post in Tantallon, confirming there have been no reports of injuries. “But we don’t know the size of this fire yet.”
Meldrum said the wind shifted directions overnight and is now coming from the north, which means the fire is blowing back on itself and could set new fires in large subdivisions on the outskirts of the city.
Meanwhile, forest fire technicians have examined drone footage from the area. “They’re telling us that there still could be significant fire, even though the fire may turn around and go back the way it came,” the deputy chief said. “There’s a lot of unburned fuel still in the area … that could reignite.”
With no rain in the forecast, Meldrum said it could take the rest of the week to subdue the flames.
“We have a lot of work to do today, this week – for many days,” he said. “Residents must be prepared to remain out of their homes for several days at least.”
About 100 firefighters are working to contain the fire, and two helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources will be joined today by two water bombers from Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Damage to the streets is not consistent,” Meldrum said. “This is normal with a wildland-based fire. Homes on a street that are perfectly fine can be close to others that are damaged or destroyed.”
As well, Meldrum said firefighters working overnight managed to stop the fire from spreading northward beyond two main roads in the area, though there were reports of some people having to be rescued from their homes as the fire closed in.