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‘Today will be hot:’ Nova Scotia wildfires and the challenging day ahead

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Temperatures in Nova Scotia are expected to climb above 30 degrees Thursday as crews enter the fifth day battling wildfires raging across the province.

A blaze broke out Sunday afternoon in the Tantallon area, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Halifax, and has since grown to about 837 hectares. The fire has destroyed about 200 buildings, including 150 homes, and forced the evacuation of more than 16,400 people.

The hot, dry weather is continuing to pose a challenge for those working to get the fire under control.

“Today will be hot,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said in a tweet Thursday morning. “Crews will continue heroic work to keep people alive & protect property.”

Day 5. The fight against the Fire.
Today will be hot,Crews will continue heroic work to keep people alive & protect property. We will rally behind those who have been devastated. It’s what we do, it’s how we roll #NSStrong and it will outlast the Fire. The Fight continues

— Mayor Mike Savage (@MikeSavageHFX) June 1, 2023

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The Halifax-area blaze is one of three wildfires burning out of control in the province.

A fire in Shelburne, one of the largest in the province’s history, last measured at around 17,600 hectares, according to Nova Scotia’s wildfire dashboard. That fire has destroyed about 50 homes and forced 5,000 people to evacuate.

And a much smaller wildfire that started Monday in nearby Pubnico now measures at around 147 hectares.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, David Steeves, a technician of forest resources with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, said the hot, dry weather is “not a good news story” for those fighting the fire.

The fine fuels – leaves, twigs, and other “really small fuels” littering the forest floor – are “extremely dry,” said Steeves, making the fire easier to spread.

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According to Environment Canada, temperatures are expected to reach a high of 32 degrees in both Halifax and Shelburne Thursday.

Some hope could be coming later this week – there’s a 60 per cent chance of showers Friday, with rain forecasted for Friday evening through the weekend.

On Wednesday, Premier Tim Houston said the province has asked the federal government for a “comprehensive” support package to help with fighting the fires.

The long list of requests include military firefighters, ignition specialists, firefighting equipment and supplies — including 12 4×4 trucks and four helicopters.

In terms of longer-term needs, Houston said he has also asked for financial support for modular housing for those who have lost their homes. As well, the province is looking for skilled trades personnel from the military and exemptions for temporary foreign workers to help re-build.

While a specific cause of the fires are still unknown, DNRR officials believe they were caused by people, as are most wildfires.

The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables has issued a total burn ban across the province, and the province also implemented a ban on travel and activity in the woods.

Houston said Thursday that effective immediately, anyone who burns in the province could be subject to a fine of $25,000.

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More to come.