Many remaining Halifax-area evacuees will likely be allowed to return home Friday

Many remaining Halifax-area evacuees will likely be allowed to return home Friday

Many of the remaining evacuees from the Halifax-area wildfire will likely be notified Friday they can return to their homes, although those in the worse-hit areas should expect to wait longer before they are allowed into their neighbourhoods.

An official with the Halifax Regional Municipality said Thursday a humanitarian group is expected to arrive Sunday to help those whose homes were destroyed or badly damaged go through debris to see if anything survived.

At a news conference, Mayor Mike Savage said notifications about returning home would go out via emergency alert.

"We need to be vigilant, we need to follow safety," Savage said. "Wildfires are not going away."

Erica Fleck, Halifax's director of emergency management, told reporters the municipality is focused on getting people back home when it's safe.

Fleck said dozens of members of Team Rubicon, a veteran-led humanitarian organization headquartered in Los Angeles but with a Canadian branch, would be arriving on Sunday. Team members will have hazmat suits and will help homeowners look for possessions that may have survived the fires.

Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Municipality

In a Facebook post, Team Rubicon Canada said it was assembling a team that will come to Nova Scotia "with our core capabilities, including chainsaw operations, debris removal, heirloom recovery, incident management support and disaster mapping."

The municipality said in a news release that those in the significant impact zone should be able to return within the next 10 days.

At the peak, more than 16,000 people were forced to leave their homes due to the wildfire that began in late May in the Upper Tantallon area. There are still 4,100 people who remain under evacuation orders. It's not clear how many of those people will be returning on Friday.

The Phase 3 area covers thousands of people in Upper Tantallon and Hammonds Plains. Fleck said people who live in the area of significant impact will need to wait a while longer before they can head home because of safety concerns.

WATCH | Woman who lost house in N.S. wildfire describes 'unimaginable' experience

Under the Fire Act, fencing will be set up around homes that have been destroyed or heavily damaged, Fleck said. She said the municipality will be doing that with the insurance companies.

The wildfire destroyed 151 homes. Halifax Fire Chief Ken Stuebing said it could take a long time before the fire is considered out.

For example, he said it took a year before the 2016 Fort McMurray, Alta., fire was considered out.

WATCH | Halifax officials provide update on wildfires on Thursday, June 8

Well-water testing kits are available for pickup from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday at the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Centre at 711 Pockwock Rd.

The drop-off time for completed samples is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, June 12, Tuesday, June 13 and Wednesday, June 14 at the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Centre.

The Black Point & Area Community Centre at 8579 St Margarets Bay Rd. is open as a comfort centre from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily until further notice, with mental health resources on site.

Spoiled food drop-off bins will be available Friday, June 9 and Saturday, June 10 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Across from 229 Winslow Dr.

  • 239 High Timber Dr.

  • The cul-de-sack at the end of Aralia Lane.

  • The cul-de-sack at the end of Westwood Boulevard.

If anyone needs to throw out a refrigerator, they're ask to do the following:

  • Remove items.

  • Place it on the curbside for the next regular garbage collection day once the CFCs have been safely removed.

Regular organics and recycling collection residents re-entering the Phase 3 evacuation area will occur on Monday, June 12 – and garbage limits will be relaxed on Monday, June 19.

Residents in need of a new green bin can request one by calling 311.