Halifax Fire officials say the 30 millimetres of rain that fell on Saturday made it “a good day,” but firefighters on the ground are still working on putting out flareups and smoldering areas.

“One captain relayed to me the surprise that even with the rain we’ve had in digging down and finding flareups and finding hidden fires. We had a lot of rain, but not enough,” said Halifax deputy fire chief Dave Meldrum at the 5pm briefing.

The fire in Tantallon is at 85% contained and is under control. More than 10,000 residents are still evacuated from their homes. It could be another 10 days to two weeks before residents are able to return.

“When we leave here we have to make sure this place is safe. So, we’re not going to leave here until we know this place has got the attention it deserves and the residents are going to be comfortable with this situation.” 

Meanwhile, the fire that started at Farmers Dairy Lane on Thursday night is 100% contained and under control. 

Dave Steeves, a forest resources technician with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, described the conditions on the ground as “black, almost a watery tar sticking to [the firefighters’] boots. He said those conditions create slipping hazards for firefighters. Still, Steeves said morale was up among the crews on site.

“This has been a very physical day for the fire crews on the line, but this is rewarding work because they can see the progress they are making,” Steeves said.

“They’re dirty, they’re wet, but the morale here is really good. This weather has done a lot of good for a lot of people. We’re going to take as much as Mother Nature is willing to send our way.” 

There are five active fires across Nova Scotia. That’s down from 10 active fires this morning. And the fire in Shelburne remains out of control. Fires on Lake Road and in Pubnico are under control.

Steeves said resources coming to the province from the U.S. would head to Shelburne County to fight that fire. He said a decision to move resources from the Tantallon fire site to Shelburne would be made by higher ups in command.

“That is a massive fire. That’s the largest fire in the history of Nova Scotia,” Steeves said. “There’s a lot of ground to cover, those bodies are going to be needed. The foot patrol alone on that much land is absolutely staggering.” 

Warden says forecast has residents ‘cautiously optimistic’

In a briefing earlier this afternoon, Penny Smith, warden with the Municipality of the District of Shelburne, said the forecast for the next few days has people in that area “cautiously optimistic” that crews would able to get that fire under control.

“Last evening, during a late supper at a Birchtown community centre, it was the first time that I heard optimisim in the firefighters’ voices. As the last ones were leaving around 10 o’clock or so to go home, we felt the first raindrops… it’s been a long time I’ve been this happy to see so much rain.”

Smith said the province is working to assess properties in the evacuated areas, but that it would take time and the municipality will be contacting homeowners when they have the information.

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. Finally some really good news. Thank you for bringing us this late update. The Examiner and the efforts of all the staff are very much appreciated.