“It’s raining,” said Halifax Deputy Fire Chief Dave Meldrum at this morning’s press briefing in Tantallon. “We’re very pleased about that rain.”

Yesterday, the Tantallon Fire grew to 950 hectares, but this morning the fire is 80% contained, and its status has changed from “out of control” to “held,” said Dave Steeves, a technician of forest resources with the Department of Natural Resources.

“Basically what being held means is that with the current resources that we have on site, and then the suppression efforts that have taken place, the fire is not likely to spread,” explained Steeves. “So, the rain that we are getting now is going to help the suppression issues. But that being said, this fire is not out and it will not be declared out for some time… We could be here for weeks; we could be here for a couple of months before the incident commander is comfortable in saying this fire is out.”

The rain brings new risks to firefighters.

“For those firefighters, it’s amazing how things change,” said Meldrum. “They welcome the rain, but now today they face slip and fall injuries. They’re going to be very, very dirty.”

“It’s going to be really, really messy, to be honest, and difficult for the guys and girls that are on the lines,” added Steeves. “It is going to be an uncomfortable day for people out there. They’re going to be digging. They’re going to be moving logs. They’re going to be going to be in the back woods and it’s going to be real messy. But what I can say? I can speak to the professionalism, the dedication of those folks on the line. It is truly a humbling thing to be part of.”

Meldrum could not say if any more of the evacuation area would be released back to residents today. But there will be at least one bus tour today for residents who have lost homes.

Water drops halted because of unauthorized entries into fire zone

People who shouldn’t have been at the fire scene are hampering efforts to fight the Barrington Fire, said Dave Rockwood, a public information officer with the Depaertment of Natural Resources, at a press briefing Friday afternoon.

“I’m going to be a little blunt on this,” said Rockwood. “We need people to stay out of our area. If you haven’t been granted access to our exclusion zones within the evacuation zones, you need to stay out. We’ve had many occasions that they are hindering and stopping our operations from our airships. They cannot drop if you are in our area and I’m going to be straightforward: We have lost structures because of a number of these incidents where we’ve had to stop our aircraft from dropping.” 

Asked to elaborate, Rockwood responded:

We’ve had boats out on lakes that we’re not even sure where the people have come from. They’ve just popped out and began crossing the lake. And then when [air bomber] comes in, you don’t want to be in that thing’s way. And, you know, thank goodness the pilot caught onto it and there wasn’t an incident.

And then we had other circumstances where individuals are coming to an area to check on friends’ camps who were who live out of province. And the unfortunate thing there is their actions caused us not to be able to drop the bombs, the water bombers, and they had to pull out. And that structure specifically was lost.

So, yeah, it’s it’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating for our ground crews that are already stressed and pushed right now. So just we need people to stay out. 

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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