Thanks to a quick response from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency and Lands & Forestry, and favourable winds, emergency responders were able to contain a large brush fire in a heavily wooded area of Porters Lake. The first report of the fire came in at approximately 12:30 pm on Saturday, May 23, on a weekend in which a provincial fire burn was in effect. The total area covered by the fire was roughly 50 hectares, and there were no injuries or damages to homes.
Eight HRFE stations and several dozen Lands and Forestry crew fought the blaze, assisted by three L&F helicopters dropping water. Additional support came from Halifax Search and Rescue teams as well as a team from Eastern Shore Ground Search and Rescue.
The fire started off of West Porters Lake Road, managing to jump across Highway 107, which was closed down between Exits 18 and 20 for some time. Saturday afternoon, fire officials ordered the evacuation of more than 1,000 people along part of West Porters Lake Road, and westward along Candy Mountain Road. Councillor David Hendsbee was on the scene almost continuously. He posted extensive updates on Facebook from Saturday afternoon onwards to keep the community informed about a tricky fire that could have caused much more extensive damages if the winds had shifted the wrong way.
The evacuation order ended on Sunday, but fire crews were still walking the woods on Monday, looking for “hot spots” that might flare up again.
For many residents, the fire was an unpleasant reminder of a much larger fire in 2008 in Lake Echo and Porters Lake that burned almost 2,000 hectares and forced 5,000 people to evacuate. The 2008 fire destroyed several homes, but there were no injuries.
Following the blaze, fire officials emphasized the importance of observing the provincial fire ban regulations, which can be found on the Nova Scotia “Check Before You Burn” webpage at https://novascotia.ca/burnsafe/. (As the Cooperator goes to press, the entire province is under a “No Burn” order.)