Nova Scotia battles its largest fire in history

Canadian firefighters are fighting the biggest wildfire in the history of the Atlantic province. The fire on the southern tip of the province has burned over 17,000 hectares (42,000+ acres), with flamelengths reaching nearly 100m (328 feet). And another fire near Halifax has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. Smoke has drifted south, triggering air quality warnings in the U.S., according to BBC News reports.

Smoke over Nova Scotia firesNova Scotia officials said the fire’s burning in Shelburne County and about 50 homes have been destroyed. Dave Rockwood with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources told reporters that the fire’s very fast-moving. He said about 5,000 people were evacuated, according to reports from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A smaller fire near Halifax earlier burned about 200 homes and evacuated over 16,000 people.

According to an ALJAZEERA report, the fires were causing poor air quality hundreds of kilometers away, but federal help was coming — along with about 100 firefighters from the U.S. — after local authorities appealed for outside assistance. Canada’s federal government had already provided airlifts, aerial surveillance, crew comfort trailers, and food at the emergency shelters, said Sean Fraser, a cabinet minister and parliament member from Nova Scotia.

Firefighters in Nova Scotia

“We’re in a crisis in the province and we want and we need and we will take all the support we can get,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston told a news conference on Wednesday. “Unprecedented resources are being used because these fires are unprecedented.” Additional resources have been shipped in from Ontario, and a dozen water bombers from neighboring regions and the Coast Guard have been engaged. Houston said he has also asked for military assistance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the wildfires “heartbreaking” and promised unlimited support.

 

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia officials increased the fine for breaking the provincewide burn ban — a restriction on outdoor fires — to $25,000 CAD (almost $19,000 USD). Officials said rain is not forecasted for the region until Friday, and they remain unsure on when residents can return to their homes.

Collapsed bridge between Clyde River and Port Clyde in Nova Scotia.

Canada’s federal government announced today that it will be sending more resources to help Nova Scotia. This includes military personnel, as well as additional firefighters to help relieve those who have been working on the ground for days. More than 300 firefighters from the U.S. and South Africa are en route to Canada in the coming days. Some will be sent to Nova Scotia, while others are headed for Alberta.

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9 thoughts on “Nova Scotia battles its largest fire in history”

  1. According to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources & Renewables Media Guide to Fores Fires (https://novascotia.ca/natr/forestprotection/wildfire/media-guide/fire-info.asp),
    the largest fire in the province between the 1950s and 2022 was the 1976 Porcupine Lake Fire which burned some 13,000 hectares.

    Research by Wein and Moore (1979) suggests that there might have been fires between 1918 and 1947 of a similar size or even larger.

    Wein, R.W; Moore, J.M. 1979. Fire history and recent fire rotation periods in the Nova Scotia Acadian Forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 9: 166-178.
    (https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/abs/10.1139/x79-031)

    Marty Alexander, Wild Rose Fire Behaviour, Leduc County, Alberta

  2. The term “cross-over” has been mentioned a few times in the past week or so in connection with the wildfire activity in Nova Scotia, Canada.

    For a description of this concept. I’d recommend viewing pages 38-40 in the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System weather guide (https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=29152).

    Marty Alexander, Wild Rose Fire Behaviour, Leduc County, Alberta

  3. From the document: Widely used rules of thumb warning of potentially severe fire weather include “crossover,” a concept that has been discussed for decades (Alberta Forest Service 1985). Crossover refers to an hourly pattern of temperature and relative humidity in which a rising temperature trend is intersected or crossed by a falling relative humidity trend, which may indicate potentially severe fire behavior.

  4. “Spring dip” is another term that has occasionally appeared in the media coverage of Nova Scotia’s recent wildfire activity. The term was originally coined by C.E. Van Wagner back in 1974 and refers to the point during the year when the moisture content of the needles of live conifer trees are at their lowest, thereby favouring the likelihood for crown fire development in such forest fuel complexes (https://d1ied5g1xfgpx8.cloudfront.net/pdfs/31990.pdf).

    The term spring dip is often used to connote the lack of “greenup” in understory plants (e.g., shrubs, herbs, grasses) and the overstory canopy of hardwood forest types such as trembling aspen (https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=31539).

    As it turns out, the spring dip roughly coincides with the onset of flushing in deciduous vegetation (https://d1ied5g1xfgpx8.cloudfront.net/pdfs/11849.pdf).

    Marty Alexander, Wild Rose Fire Behaviour, Leduc County, Alberta

  5. In 1985 at fire behavior training (590) in Marana I roomed with Terry VanNest from the Alberta Forest Service. He showed me photos of his RX burning in Edmonton to create Mountain Goat habitat.. They were prescribing crown fires in dense pine in May. He said at that time of year the live fuel moisture in the pine was the lowest it would be for the year. His photos were pretty impressive.

  6. I believe you are referring to the prescribed fire conducted in subalpine white spruce on May 30, 1983 at Ram Mountain in west-central Alberta.

    This prescribed fire was conducted for bighorn sheep habitat improvement purposes.

    For more information, see pages 24-28 in Fire Management Notes at:
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/legacy_files/fire-management-today/044_04_0.pdf

    To view colour photos of the fire, see: https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=26668

    Marty Alexander, Wild Rose Fire Behaviour, Leduc County, Alberta

  7. Thanks for the info on the Rx burn Marty. I looked up the burn in your link and read it. That is the one Terry had told me about. Yes, White spruce and Bighorn sheep, not pine and Mountain Goats. Blame my confusion on the 70s, I’m 74 now.

What do you think?