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Evacuation order lifted for Porters Lake residents after crews battle wildfire

More than a 1,000 evacuated as a result of Porters Lake fire
More than 1,000 residents in the area of Porters Lake, N.S. were asked to leave their homes Saturday as crews worked to contain a large fire in the area. Jesse Thomas brings us the latest.

The evacuation order for the Porters Lake area that forced over 1,000 people from the homes has now been lifted.

In a news release Sunday at around 4:30 p.m., the Halifax Regional Municipality said all residents are able to return to their homes as of 6 p.m.

“The Department of Lands and Forestry will continue to maintain the perimeter and monitor the fire,” the release reads.

READ MORE: Evacuations ongoing due to ‘significant’ brush fire in Porters Lake, N.S.

In a tweet late Sunday evening the lands and forestry department says the wildfire is 100 per cent contained after expanding to about 50 hectares in size, up from an earlier estimate of 45 hectares.

He says approximately 45 firefighters from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency (HRFE) are working alongside 30 firefighters with lands and forestry in the woods to contain the blaze.

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“Right now, the fire is still considered to be out of control,” Steeves said Sunday at 1 p.m. “The reason behind that being the fact that we have some possible weather issues.”

Fire services focusing on containing 50-hectare Porters Lake bush fire rather than mapping it
Fire services focusing on containing 50-hectare Porters Lake bush fire rather than mapping it

Steeves says strong winds out of the west could push the fire toward the community. He also says the terrain in the woods is “extremely trying.”

“You can imagine some of the large boulders and whatnot that Halifax County is known for,” he said. “So they are dragging lots of equipment up and over that.

“It’s difficult work. It’s tiring work, but they are out there and they’re working for the betterment of the people of this area.”

Erica Fleck, emergency management chief with HRFE, confirmed that 523 homes were evacuated on Sunday, with the potential for even more.

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Fleck says ground search and rescue team members are on standby in case more evacuations are needed.

“It is looking much more positive than it was yesterday, but we still have them on standby just in case. If we were to expand that evacuation bubble, we would be looking at approximately another 500 homes.”

Fire in Porters Lake, N.S. not yet ‘under control,’ no homes impacted
Fire in Porters Lake, N.S. not yet ‘under control,’ no homes impacted

The evacuations currently ordered impact residents on West Porter Lake Road to Marjorie Drive and Capri Drive. An evacuation centre was set up at the Lake Echo Community Centre for those displaced.

No homes have been directly affected by the fire as of Sunday afternoon.

Julia Cameron and her family were only given 10 minutes to gather their things and leave Saturday afternoon. She says they’re currently living in their camper at the emergency shelter. 

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“The home is replaceable, my family’s not replaceable,” she said. “And sadly due to many circumstances in our province over the last couple of months, many people are living through the loss of family.

“I think that we’re very blessed and very lucky to have the camper, have a place to go, have a community that’s so supportive.”

Thirty lands and forestry crews and two helicopters, 25 HRFE firefighters with two engines and five tankers are at the scene, along with Nova Scotia RCMP and Emergency Health Services.

The smoke from the fire in Porters Lake, N.S., could be seen from kilometres away.
The smoke from the fire in Porters Lake, N.S., could be seen from kilometres away. Jesse Thomas/Global News

Officials also reminded Nova Scotians of a province-wide ban on burning, saying fire risk in the province is high because of dry conditions, winds and low humidity.

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“We don’t set these regulations lightly,” Steeves said. “It’s not something that we’re out to ruin family get-togethers and gatherings.

“This situation is serious, and a small campfire has the possibility to change your life or that of your neighbours very, very quickly.”

READ MORE: Crews continue to battle wildfire in Chester Grant, N.S.

Another update on the status of the wildfire is expected to be provided at 6 p.m. AT.

The cause of the fire currently remains unknown.

–With files from Jesse Thomas.