Fire Update

Wildfire in Tantallon. Photo: CBC

A quick e-news update to address the fire situation that HRM is in. I know everyone is thinking about our first responders, the residents who have been evacuated, and the residents who have no home to go back to. It has been a challenging couple of days! At times like this we all have to pull together. Please follow the instructions of authorities and help where you can. For those of us in District 5 who are fortunate to be outside the area of direct impact, that means heeding the burn ban, and staying out of wooded areas. More details below.

The Province has closed the woods. This includes HRM parks. Please stay out of any parks that are wooded. Places like Point Pleasant, Shubie, and Cyril Smith are completely closed. Please don’t go there.

Some parks, like Sullivan’s Pond, have no wooded areas and will remain open. We have a lot of parks though where there is a mix of wooded and cleared/manicured areas. Places like Penhorn Lake where half the park is forested and half is grass and beach. In situations like that, the park is open, but the wooded areas are closed.

HRM has over 900 parks. With staff resources severely strained by the fire situation, it’s not possible for the municipality to install signs and barriers everywhere. Staff doing that in high priority areas, but they just can’t be everywhere. Please use your common-sense. If it feels like a walk in the woods, assume the space is closed, and don’t go there. Closing wooded areas might seem extreme, but the last thing our fire department needs is additional calls for preventable fires right now. Please follow the order and don’t look for loop holes. Stay out of the woods.

Burn Ban:
In addition to the direction to stay out of wooded areas, the Province has ramped up the burn ban. Don’t burn anything, for any reason. No fires. The Province announced today that the maximum fine for violators has increased immediately from $10,000 up to $25,000. There were eight illegal fires reported yesterday in HRM. Let’s make that number zero going forward.

United Way Appeal
There has been an outpouring of support for everyone involved in this disaster. I have heard from a number of people looking to help. Everyone is appreciative of the offers. Unfortunately, HRM doesn’t have the capacity to manage donations at this time. Municipal efforts are focused on the present emergency. The United Way though is stepping up to fill part of the recovery role.

The United Way is currently collecting funds for wildfire relief. A full appreciation of what the community’s needs are hasn’t been done yet, but the expectation is that donations will go to support things like basic needs, groceries, connection and mental health supports. Emera has agreed to match contributions made to the United Way up to $125,000. Consider a donation to help. You can donate online here

In terms of donations of physical goods, please stay tuned for info. A plan is in the works and should be announced very shortly.

Thank you to everyone who is following instructions, who wants to help, and, especially to our first responders who are on the frontlines