Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says he’s concerned about the “extremely challenging” conditions being seen across the country as wildfires continue to impact a number of provinces and territories.
“We will do everything we can to support the people of Canada as they are being impacted by this extremely challenging wildfire season,” Blair told reporters on Monday. “It is frankly an all-hands-on-deck response to the challenges that people are facing.”
Blair’s comments come after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a tweet on Monday said the latest wildfire situation in Nova Scotia was “incredibly serious” and the government would provide any support and assistance needed
“We’re keeping everyone affected in our thoughts, and we’re thanking those who are working hard to keep people safe,” Trudeau wrote.
In the Halifax region, a local state of emergency has been declared because of the blaze that started Sunday afternoon in Tantallon, which has forced thousands to flee.
The exurban community is roughly a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown Halifax.
Blair praised the work of firefighters and Canadian Armed Forces members who had mobilized in response to the fires burning across the country, but said he was “very concerned” about the health and safety of those involved.
“Those people have been doing extraordinary work, but they have been working almost non-stop,” he said.
“The fire season Canada is facing now is extremely challenging and we recognize there is a need for more trained firefighters.”
In an update Monday morning, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Deputy Chief Dave Meldrum told reporters that the fire burning in the Tantallon and Hammonds Plains area is “ongoing and still not under control.”
He said firefighters were called to the Westwood subdivision of Tantallon, around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, where there was a “very large and fast-moving fire.”
The blaze quickly escalated through second, third, fourth and fifth alarms, “which is the first use of a fifth alarm that many of us can remember,” Meldrum said.
Canadian Armed Forces members have been working in Alberta for weeks now as wildfires that began earlier in the month continue to rage.
Around 300 were deployed after the province requested federal help to fight the fires.
Nova Scotia is not the only Canadian province battling wildfires. More than 200 active fires are burning across the country, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
A provincial state of emergency remains in effect in Alberta, which was reporting 60 active wildfires Monday.
Earlier this month, the federal government approved a request from Alberta to assist with the wildfire situation there.
The emergency preparedness minister also stressed to people impacted by wildfires, including those in Nova Scotia, that people should be prepared to evacuate if they are ordered to. He added the federal government would work with provincial and territorial partners to “be there” for those who had lost their homes and will work to rebuild communities that have been destroyed.
Nationally, the number of wildfires is well above average for this time of year and the area burned is nearly 13 times the average for this time of year, Natural Resources Canada said.
More to come.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Alex Cooke.