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.

An amazing firefighter GoFundMe: Casey Budlong

UPDATE: CASEY IS HOME and is doing well, considering.
Still not out of the woods, more details from James and Katy pending …
His GoFundMe page has a bunch more photos!

    Casey has been released from the hospital and is home on the farm! We are still waiting on the final pathology results, but we know he will have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation again. We are so thankful for the love and support that we have received, and we will continue to keep everyone updated.
Casey Budlong
Casey Budlong

Hey everyone my name is James Snell with the La Grande Airtanker Base. Unfortunately, as many of us already know, Casey’s brain cancer has returned and as I’m typing this message Casey is undergoing open brain surgery. Casey has over 20 years working in wildland fire for the US Forest Service, with the last 5 years working at the La Grande Airtanker Base. He began his service as a wildland firefighter in his hometown of Detroit Lake, Oregon and went on to serve at various locations in eastern Oregon, including 8 years with La Grande Hotshots. Katy Budlong, his wife, has said expenses for medical bills not covered by insurance will be at least $30,000.

Casey Budlong family
Casey Budlong family

For this reason, we here at the La Grande Airtanker Base have decided to start up a GoFundMe to assist the Budlongs with their out-of-pocket costs.

The length of Casey’s post-surgery recovery is unknown at this point. Your donations will help cover medical expenses, hotel stays, and gas money for travel between La Grande and Portland, among other expenses that will arise during his rehabilitation. Please consider donating, a gift of any amount would mean the world for the Budlongs.

Casey Budlong was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2018 and underwent two brain surgeries, six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, and then another five months of intensive chemotherapy. Casey recovered remarkably well and faced the challenge with positivity and humor. Unfortunately, in April 2023, he developed a bad headache and lost peripheral vision in his left eye. A trip to the ER and a CAT scan revealed a new tumor located right-rear; the first tumor was right-front. The ER doctors immediately referred Casey back to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, and he has gotten further tests and is working on getting surgery scheduled. So, surrounded by an amazing support system of family and friends and an exceptional medical team, Casey will once again face this challenge.

Casey is doing great! They removed the drain tube this afternoon and are keeping his pain level down. After the last surgeries, he developed a blood clot in his leg, so they did a scan today and unfortunately found a clot in the same spot, so they will be placing an IVC filter tomorrow morning for that. He is still in ICU, but with orders to be transferred to general as soon as they have a room ready, but it might not be till tomorrow. He has definitely become the favorite patient and has kept the staff laughing, and they all love him! His nurse last night was briefing some of the medical team outside his room, describing his history and how well he is doing, and told them, “You have Captain America in there!” He is a superhero, although Chris said he is more like the Hulk. He is also eating in true Casey fashion and loving the hospital food. He may go home tomorrow, but that will depend on how he does. As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers! ❤️

Oregon Rx fire gets away east of Eugene

Firefighters are working on a wildfire that took off when sudden wind gusts fanned a prescribed burn that was considered contained, the U.S. Forest Service reported late Tuesday night. KEZI-TV reported that a prescribed burn was under way near the community of McKenzie Bridge, upstream from Eugene, Oregon, on the McKenzie River, on May 30. Though the prescribed burn was started when weather was within planned parameters, gusty winds started two spot fires near the 65-acre burn area.

The USFS officially declared the escaped burn a wildfire — called the W-470 Fire — and said that as of the morning of May 31 the total burn area was about 120 acres.

Fire crews went out on the night of May 30 to try to contain the fire. The USFS said 34 firefighters worked overnight according to pre-existing contingency plans, and more resources were on the way.

KLCC radio reported that unexpected gusty winds pushed the burn outside the prescribed area. The fire is about two miles northeast of the McKenzie River ranger station in eastern Lane County.

The Willamette National Forest reported that the burn was planned to reduce fuels in a thinned stand, but the escaped fire burned onto National Forest land outside of the burn unit’s perimeter. The burn area is north of Highway 126 where FS Roads 26-204 and 26-206 split near Frissell Trail.

Cooler temperatures are moderating fire activity. “Our highest priority is to suppress fire in the area adjacent to the burn unit,” said Dave Warnack, Willamette Forest Supervisor. Residents of the area who remember the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire are expressing frustration with the USFS for allowing the prescribed burn to escape.

OREGON: keep an eye out for contents from this trailer

Firefighters in Oregon are on the lookout for thieves who stole  investigation gear and evidence from a Lebanon Fire District trailer parked at a fire station about 90 miles north in Fairview, Oregon.

Lebanon, Oregon fire equipment trailer
Lebanon, Oregon fire equipment trailer

KOIN-TV reported that thieves broke into the trailer and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of investigative equipment.

Firefighters said they discovered the break-in on Monday at Station 33 in Fairview; thieves had cut through a new security fence on the back of the property, cut the locks on the Lebanon Fire Investigation Team trailer, and stolen fire investigation tools including lights and cameras.

“Thefts such as these are extremely frustrating,” said Fire Marshal Ken Foster. “Having to replace all our investigation equipment may delay any pending or future fire investigations and has a direct effect on our community.” The Lebanon Fire District is asking for help; anyone with information should contact the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at 541-967-3950 and refer to case number 23-02101.

Burning Hot: 50 Years of U.S. Fire Weather

Climate Central has examined historical trends in fire weather — a combination of low humidity, high heat, and strong winds — across the U.S., using data from 476 weather stations to assess trends in 245 climate divisions spanning all 48 contiguous states over a 50-year period from 1973 to 2022.

Wildfire seasons have become longer and more intense, especially across the West, and the research also found that many parts of the East have experienced smaller but important increases in fire weather. Even small increases in the East — with almost 28 million homes in fire-prone areas — puts millions more people at increased risk. As the research intro points out, the same weather variables that influence fire weather and wildfire are factors that determine the safe use of prescribed fire, critical to reducing fuels and thus fire risk. More fire weather days means fewer windows for prescribed burning.

fire weather

The reports include both summaries and in-depth comparisons of Fifty Years of Fire Weather in the West (example: Some places, including parts of Texas, California, Oregon, and Washington, are experiencing fire weather more than twice as often now as in the early 1970s) and Fifty Years of Fire Weather in the East (example: New England has experienced a decrease in annual fire weather days, driven largely by fewer days in which the wind speed variable hit the analytical threshold). Reduced wind speeds could be partially attributed to a decrease in the temperature gradient between land and sea along the Gulf of Maine, as sea surface temperatures have warmed drastically due to climate change.

Climate Central’s new report, Wildfire Weather: Analyzing the 50-year shift across America, expands on wildfire risks and adaptation across the country. The full report discusses other key factors that influence wildfire, including fuels, other weather conditions, and human activity.

State Farm: No new California homeowners’ policies

UPDATE 06/02/2023 — Allstate and Farmers join State Farm in denying new homeowner policies in California. State Farm quit selling new homeowner policies on Saturday, and now a second major carrier, Allstate Insurance, has confirmed it ended new homeowners’ policies in the state last year. On top of that, ABC-7 News reported that Farmers Insurance is now limiting policies for new customers. All three companies are still serving existing customers, and more than 100 other companies are still issuing new homeowners’ policies, but homeowners across the state will have a tougher time buying coverage.

State Farm will no longer provide home insurance to new California customers because of wildfire risks and increased construction costs. The company quit accepting new applications for business and personal lines and casualty insurance in California, USA TODAY reported.

California construction costs
Estimation QS
Building Cost Estimating, Construction, Outdoor Projects and Activities

State Farm said it will still work with the California Department of Insurance and lawmakers and will still serve existing customers.

The Oregonian reported that last year, California became the first state to require insurance premium discounts for those with wildfire protection safeguards at homes or businesses. That change was in response to soaring insurance costs for customers in high-risk areas.

“State Farm General Insurance Company made this decision due to historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market,” the company said in a statement.

Top ten states by acres burned
Top ten states by acres burned, 2016-2020.

CNN reported that scientists and California officials blame the climate crisis for the intensity of fire seasons. About 25 percent of the state’s forestland burned in the last 10 years — more than triple the previous decade.

The factors behind Illinois-based State Farm’s move are beyond the agency’s control, Michael Soller with the California Department of Insurance said. State Farm, with its affiliates, is the largest provider of auto and home insurance in the U.S.