Crews gain ground on wildfire burning near Nova Scotia national park
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, August 11, 2016 7:22AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 11, 2016 5:33PM EDT
HALIFAX -- Firefighters were gaining ground on a large wildfire near Nova Scotia's Kejimkujik National Park Thursday, although the province's natural resources minister says dry conditions remain a problem.
"We need rain," Lloyd Hines told reporters Thursday. "We are hopeful that we'll get some this weekend."
Hines said a total of 10 wildfires were burning in areas across the province, and the largest at Seven Mile Lake in Annapolis County was near a critical point, despite clear progress in suppressing the blaze.
The Natural Resources Department said the fire was about 60 per cent contained as of 4 p.m. local time and was burning through upwards of 400 hectares of forest.
Hines said the size was approaching that of a major fire in 2009 that destroyed 10 buildings in the Halifax suburb of Spryfield.
"This one is not threatening any structures, but it's burning through resources at a tremendous rate," he said. "The danger there is that we will get a significant outbreak in some other part of the province and it will spread our resources thinner."
The department said the weather was more favourable Thursday for fire-fighting, with a 60 per cent chance of showers and a risk of thunder showers forecasted.
Hines said the efforts of volunteer firefighters and about 100 trained department staff were being bolstered by help from outside Nova Scotia.
He said two water bombers from Quebec, one from Newfoundland and Labrador and three from neighbouring New Brunswick are being utilized. Twenty firefighters from New Brunswick are also on the fire lines.
"There's a system in place," said Hines. "It's the same system that sent our firefighters to the Fort McMurray fire."
The minister said none of the fires were threatening populated areas.
Smoke from the Seven Mile Lake fire has been moving across the province, reaching the Halifax area and affecting air quality in Annapolis, Kings, Lunenburg and Queens counties.
Natural Resources said an 8.3 hectare wildfire at Ten Mile Lake was being held and was 15 per cent contained, although it continued to be very challenging.
Meanwhile, small fires in Round Hill and Coldbrook and three in the Morganville area were either contained or extinguished.
The province said blazes in Clyde River, Perch Lake, West Dalhousie, Maitland Bridge, and Collingwood were also contained.
The government said the Trunk 8 highway remained closed because of water bombing activity and restrictions also remained on activities within forests such as hiking, camping and fishing in a bid to keep more bone-dry woods from going up in flames.
Hines said each year the province has as many as 300 wildfires, although many go unreported.
He said it was too early to say what caused the current fires, particularly the largest blaze near the national park.
"Really we're not focused on that. That's an important issue but it's one we can deal with after we get this particular fire under control."