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Halifax-area residents to view damaged homes as wildfire continues to burn

A line of cars leaving an at-risk area in Stillwather Lake, near Halifax.

A line of cars leaving an at-risk area in Stillwather Lake, near Halifax.

Photo: Jeorge Sadi/CBC


Bus tour to view damaged homes in Upper Tantallon, Hammonds Plains, Pockwock

Residents whose homes have been damaged or destroyed in a wildfire that continues to burn outside Halifax will get the chance to see their properties today on a bus tour of the affected areas.

In an email sent to the affected residents by the Halifax Regional Municipality's emergency management office shortly after 8 p.m. AT Thursday, officials said the tour of some 200 damaged and destroyed homes will leave from the Canada Games Centre in Halifax at 11 a.m.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to leave the bus to walk around your property, it said.

The email, which was provided to CBC News by a resident who lost their home, said staff will be on hand at the Canada Games Centre after the tour to answer questions.

Spotty showers on Friday morning were a welcomed reprieve from the hot and dry conditions that have plagued the region since the wildfire broke out in the Westwood Hills subdivision in Upper Tantallon mid-Sunday afternoon. 

The 837-hectare blaze that spans swaths of Upper Tantallon, Hammonds Plains and Pockwock continues to burn and was 50 per cent contained on Thursday.

Rain on the way

As temperatures soared into the 30s on Thursday, new fires broke out across the Halifax area, including at the Waegwoltic Club in south-end Halifax (new window) and in wooded areas off Prospect Road and Perrin Drive in Waverley.

CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said scattered showers are expected to become widespread across the province Friday afternoon and evening. On Saturday, up to 40 millimetres of rain is expected in some areas.

WATCH | Breaking the burn ban in Halifax could result in tickets

Breaking the burn ban in Halifax could result in tickets

16 hours agoDuration1:07In a news briefing on Thursday at 5 p.m. with reporters, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Deputy Chief David Meldrum said most outdoor fires are caused by people and that personal responsibility is key.

Earlier on Thursday, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said people continued to break the province's ban on burning, noting someone was caught using a propane torch to burn leaves and another person was starting a bonfire. 

This is a clear violation of the no-stupid policy, Savage said in an update with reporters at 3 p.m. Thursday. Don't do it.

The provincewide fine for violating the current burn ban was increased this week from $237.50 to a maximum of $25,000.

The RCMP said Friday that nearly a dozen tickets have been issued since 4 p.m. on Tuesday, including eight related to the ban on burning and three related to the ban on entering wooded areas.

Two of the tickets carried the maximum fine of $25,000. In Yarmouth, a person was having a fire that was extinguished by fire crews, and another person in Colchester County was having an open pit fire, according to police.

WATCH | N.S. officials provide June 1 update on wildfires

About 16,400 residents were forced from their homes at the height of the evacuations — stretching from Upper Tantallon to Sackville. There have been no reports of injuries or missing people.

The federal government announced Thursday the Canadian Armed Forces will be providing supports to help battle wildfires raging across Nova Scotia (new window), including planning and co-ordination support, and firefighters and fire specialists to help control the blazes.

    Think about what you would need to bring in event of 30-minute evacuation, CAO says

    Cathie O’Toole Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Halifax Regional Municipality encouraged residents to think about bringing things like important documents, medications and pets in the event that evacuation areas change.

    Nova Scotia is offering a one-time payment of $500 per eligible household for those affected by the evacuation order. Residents can apply for that payment through the Canadian Red Cross (new window).

    Officials are investigating what started the initial fire in the Westwood Hills subdivision off Hammonds Plains Road — situated roughly 25 kilometres outside Halifax — but officials with the Natural Resources department have said it was likely human activity.

    Houston to feds: 'It's time to pitch in with whatever you have'

    During a provincial update on the wildfires burning across Nova Scotia, Premier Tim Houston said only the federal government knows what resources it has at its disposal.

    Nova Scotia RCMP have said officers are patrolling the affected neighbourhoods 24 hours a day to keep people who should not be there out. There have been no reports of looting or suspicious activity.

    Evacuation areas

    The municipality has said the evacuation zone could change, and if people need to leave, they should bring their pets, important documents and medication with them, as well as supplies for 72 hours.

    People who live in the areas affected by the local state of emergency should have a bag packed and ready to go because they might need to leave on short notice.

    Areas affected by evacuations so far include:

    • Westwood Hills subdivision.
    • White Hills subdivision.
    • Highland Park subdivision.
    • Haliburton Hills.
    • Pockwock Road.
    • Glen Arbour.
    • Lucasville Road to Sackville Drive.
    • Maplewood.
    • Voyageur Way.
    • St George Boulevard, including all side streets.
    • McCabe Lake area.

    Officials have said evacuees need to register with 311 (new window) so they can be notified if their property was damaged or destroyed. (Toll-free at 1-800-835-6428, 1-866-236-0020 for hearing impaired only line teletypewriter users).

    School closures

    The following schools are closed Friday:

    • Bay View High School.
    • Tantallon Junior Elementary.
    • Tantallon Senior Elementary.
    • Five Bridges Junior High.
    • St. Margaret's Bay Elementary.
    • Kingswood Elementary.
    • Charles P. Allen High School.
    • Basinview Drive Community School.
    • Bedford South School.
    • Harry R. Hamilton Elementary.
    • Millwood Elementary.
    • Millwood High School.
    • Sackville Heights Elementary.
    • Sackville Heights Junior High.

    The Halifax Regional Centre for Education said an update would be provided on Sunday evening about school closures for Monday.

    Comfort centres

    The Halifax Regional Municipality declared a local state of emergency Sunday night in order to access additional support. 

    Comfort centres have been opened at: 

    • Black Point and Area Community Centre, 8579 St Margarets Bay Rd., will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 2.
    • Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre, 1583 Beaver Bank Rd., will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 2.
    • Canada Games Centre, 26 Thomas Raddall Dr., open 24 hours.
    • John W. Lindsay YMCA, 5640 Sackville St., Monday to Friday 5:45 a.m. to 10 p.m, Saturday and Sunday 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Community YMCA, 2269 Gottingen St., Halifax, Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    A mobile primary health clinic will be available at the Canada Games comfort centre on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic will be able to provide care for non-urgent health issues, like prescription refills, minor respiratory symptoms, sore throat, headache, muscle pain and mental health and addiction support.

    CBC  News with files from Aly Thomson