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N.S. forest fire has grown by hundreds of hectares in a matter of hours

An out-of-control forest fire burning near Barrington Lake in Shelburne County, N.S., has grown about 75 per cent since the last update from the province Sunday morning.

An emergency alert issued at 6 p.m. said evacuation was recommended, but not mandatory, for all communities from Port Clyde to Birchtown following Shore Road.

It said the last reported location of the fire was at 89 Quinns Falls Road in Clyde River.

In a tweet, the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables said the fire measures about 1,354 hectares, up from 775 hectares late Sunday morning.

A map shows a red area where a wildfire is burning.
Satallite data from NASA on May 28, 2023, shows the area where the wildfire is burning in Shelburne County. (NASA/CBC News)

The department said the efforts to battle the wildfire include 35 department firefighters, 50 volunteer firefighters, two helicopters and six air tankers from New Brunswick.

At 5:50 p.m. AT Saturday, the fire was considered contained at 13 hectares.

The department said hot, dry and windy conditions are making it challenging to fight the fire.

Forest protection officer Kara McCurdy says Barrington Lake is located in a remote area typically only accessed for activities like hiking, fishing and four-wheeling. 

But the fire is now burning in an easterly direction, just south of the community of Clyde River, she told CBC early Sunday afternoon.

The RCMP said Sunday afternoon it had begun assisting with evacuations for residents on Upper Clyde Road and Highway 3.

Aerial footage shows smoke billowing and flames raging near Barrington Lake in Shelburne County, N.S.
An aerial photo shows smoke and fire near Barrington Lake in Shelburne County. (NS Department of Natural Resources)

Falling ash, thick smoke

Wendy Atwood, a clerk at a convenience store in Clyde River, said everyone is on edge.

“Last night, when it was dark, it was really scary because you could see the glow from the fire,” said Atwood. “Just talking about it now I’m getting goosebumps because it was unreal.” 

She said the community is blanketed with smoke that she can smell from inside the store. Falling ash can also be seen.

“You hear of forest fires out in B.C., but we never experience things like that here, so it’s really scary,” she said

McCurdy said all residents should be prepared to leave at once, if needed.

“Have a kit of clothing and personal items, be prepared to leave for roughly 72 hours, with money in hand,” she said. “Have a plan for your pets … but, in the meantime, keep your windows shut to keep the smoke out.”

Hot, windy and dry conditions expected over the next few days will make it difficult to put the fire out, said Atwood. 

“In order for us to contain this fire and get it under control … we’re going to need both help from resources and from Mother Nature,” she said.

Natural Resources said that three cabins are located in the remote area where the fire is burning and that one has been destroyed. The state of the remaining two is not known.

Meanwhile, 12 homes in a direct path of the fire were evacuated Saturday night.

Some people have returned today, but Natural Resources says they might have to leave again. Some homes may also lose power as the day progresses.

Officials said more evacuations are expected as the fire progresses, and that Highway 103 is now “generally closed” between exits 28 and 29.

A map of the area around the fire.
A map shows Barrington Lake and the nearby communities of Riverhead, Barrington and Clyde River. (Google Maps)

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