Wildfire in Halifax, Canada prompts evacuation orders for thousands of homes

By Eric Martyn and Kanishka Singh

HALIFAX (Reuters) – A wildfire in the eastern Canadian city of Halifax has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of homes, with officials saying residents are not allowed to return until the municipal authorities were not informed.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said around 18,000 people had been affected by the evacuations.

Evacuation orders issued on Sunday cover the areas of Hammonds Plains, Upper Tantallon and Pockwock. These suburban communities are home to many city workers and are located approximately 15 miles from Halifax. The inhabitants of the neighboring districts, surrounded by forests, were uncomfortable all night.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Monday that the wildfire situation in the province of Nova Scotia, where Halifax is located, is “incredibly serious” and that his government stands ready to provide any assistance if needed.

Halifax Regional Deputy Fire and Emergency Chief Dave Meldrum told reporters Monday morning that the fire burning in the Tantallon and Hammonds Plains area was “ongoing and still not under control.” The cause of the fire was still being investigated and there were no reports of fatalities or injuries yet.

Meldrum added that about 100 firefighters were battling the blazes overnight. He also said emergency crews had a lot of work to do for “many days” ahead.

The city declared a local state of emergency late Sunday after the wildfire caused evacuations and power outages, with authorities also closing several schools in affected areas.

The wildfire, aided by high winds and dry woods, damaged dozens of homes and also hampered rescue services. The state of emergency would be in effect for seven days, unless lifted or extended, the municipality said.

Canada’s western provinces of Alberta, which goes to the polls on Monday, and British Columbia have also faced an unusually warm spring this year that has sparked several wildfires out of control, reducing oil production and gas. But most of those fires have since been brought under control, allowing oil and gas production to resume.

In major oil-producing province Alberta, the intensity of one of the toughest wildfire seasons in years has continued to ease, allowing oil and gas producers to restart production which they had temporarily stopped out of caution.

Crescent Point Energy said it had restored production of 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent that it had previously halted, while Paramount Resources said it had restored most of the output it had cut due to the fires.

(Reporting by Eric Martyn in Halifax and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Writing by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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