More than 16,000 people left their homes as crews battled a raging fire near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The capital of Canada’s eastern province of Nova Scotia has declared a state of emergency as out-of-control wildfires raging near Halifax forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and prompted the closure of schools.
Halifax-area municipalities have set up temporary shelters for people fleeing the fire and warned residents early Monday that evacuation orders are mandatory.
The wildfire, fueled by strong winds and dry woods, has damaged dozens of homes and hampered rescue services, authorities said.
Halifax Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Meldrum told reporters Monday there were no reports of missing or injured people, but buildings were damaged or destroyed.
“Yesterday, our firefighters and other partners worked hard to evacuate large areas of our city, and last night, we were still on the scene,” Meldrum said.
“We had 100 firefighters on the scene overnight to put out the fire on the scene, put out the burning buildings and prevent as many buildings as possible from being lost,” he said.
Halifax, a port city of about 480,000 people, declared a state of emergency late Sunday to help deal with fires still burning in the nearby Tantalon and Hammonds Plains areas.
In a separate statement Monday morning, it said more than 60 hectares (148 acres) had been burned and about 16,400 people had been evacuated from their homes.
“Complete damage statistics are not yet available, but several buildings are expected to be lost,” the municipality said.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said water bombers had arrived from the eastern provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador to help local crews.
“We are reaching out to our municipal and federal partners to ensure all resources are exhausted,” Houston tweeted.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is “ready to provide whatever federal support and assistance is needed.”
Several fires are currently raging in Nova Scotia. Please heed emergency alerts in affected areas.
Water bombers have arrived from NB and NL to provide additional support and have been actively fighting the fire for the past hour.
— Tim Houston (@TimHoustonNS) May 29, 2023
“The wildfire situation in Nova Scotia is very serious,” Trudeau tweeted.
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected and we are grateful to those who are working hard to keep people safe,” he said.
The western Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have also been dealing with unseasonably warm weather that has sparked multiple out-of-control wildfires that have decimated oil and gas production. However, most fires have been contained.
Many experts point to climate change as a factor worsening extreme weather such as wildfires, heat waves and tropical storms around the world.
In 2016, wildfires in Alberta’s oil sands region disrupted oil production, forced 100,000 residents from Fort McMurray and crippled the Canadian economy.
A brutal 2021 heat wave in British Columbia killed hundreds. The heat also sparked dozens of wildfires, forcing evacuations and leveling entire communities.