Humidity helping crews as Yarmouth County wildfire continues to burn

·3 min read
The fire is seen burning brush near Horseshoe Lake in Yarmouth County. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)
The fire is seen burning brush near Horseshoe Lake in Yarmouth County. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)

Crews were making progress battling a wildfire burning in a remote area of Nova Scotia's Yarmouth County on Thursday as summer-like temperatures were recorded across the province, said officials with the Department of Natural Resources.

Kara McCurdy, a wildfire prevention officer, said the fire was moving southwest from South Horseshoe Lake toward the small community of Quinan, but it was still about five kilometres away and there was no risk to any homes or other infrastructure.

Quinan is located about 27 kilometres northeast of Yarmouth, where the temperature was estimated to hit 26 C on Thursday.

Two helicopters, a CL-415 water bomber from Newfoundland and Labrador, and 40 firefighters were battling the fire, which began Monday. As of Thursday, it was estimated to be just over 3,100 hectares — about the same size as a day earlier.

"We're feeling pretty good this morning about this one," Scott Tingley, manager of forest protection, told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon.

"It moved fast, it covered a lot of area, but it's not digging in deep, and this fire is certainly our primary concern at the moment in the province."

The humidity was helping crews, despite warm temperatures and a light breeze.

"Any time there is a fire burning, the weather can do some strange things, but we're very confident that we're able to hold this fire and it won't flare up to threaten the community," Paul Schnurr, the incident commander with the department, said Thursday afternoon.

Communications Nova Scotia
Communications Nova Scotia

An incident command centre was set up in Tusket, about 32 kilometres west of the fire, as crews continued to work.

Schnurr said the water bomber was critical in slowing the fire's spread and crews had begun to extinguish hot spots in the field.

"It's a good day to work on this fire. It's not moving. It's less intense so we can get a lot of work done," he said. "But because of the nature of this fire, where everything wasn't cleanly burned, it has a high potential to reignite, so we want to make sure we secure the edge really well."

McCurdy said the fire was about 10 per cent contained and there was less smoke in the air, prompting Environment Canada to lift several air quality alerts issued earlier in the week for southwestern Nova Scotia.

But McCurdy warned the warmer spring weather could still cause the fire to grow in the coming days.

"It would probably grow slightly — not significantly at this point — given what the weather is like … so it will all depend really on the weather for the next couple of days," she said.

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said humidity was expected to drop Thursday afternoon but winds would remain light.

He said more sun was expected for Friday and Saturday, with afternoon humidity near 50 per cent and the wind picking up slightly, gusting 20-30 km/h both days.

However, the area could be getting some relief in the form of light rain and drizzle Sunday.

Communications Nova Scotia
Communications Nova Scotia

McCurdy said she was hopeful the 10-15 millimetres of rain would help crews get control of the fire.

"We'll get it under control, probably ... in the next couple of days, but to actually have it completely suppressed, I know it's going to be weeks and weeks," she said.

Tingley said no additional equipment or personnel were called in Thursday, though extra air and ground supports from neighbouring provinces were available if necessary.

"We feel ready to deal with anything that might take a run on us," he said.

In the meantime, Tingly reminded Nova Scotians to check daily burn restrictions to prevent further fires.

There are burn restrictions in the counties of Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth.

"We certainly want to avoid all new starts if possible, so we're just urging everyone to be cautious out there in the woods," he said.


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