Fire crews are back at the scene of a large brush fire in Porters Lake on Sunday morning, as they work to bring it under control.
Dave Steeves, spokesperson for the Department of Lands and Forestry, which is in command at the fire scene, said Sunday morning it has contained roughly 30 per cent of the fire. But the fire is still considered active.
The fire had reached about 40 hectares in size by late Saturday evening.
All crews had to be pulled from actively fighting the fire around 9 p.m. Saturday, which is the usual practice, but Steeves said the frost overnight was helpful and any fire growth was minimal.
The weather will be the largest factor in fighting the fire Sunday, Steeves said, since high winds are expected which could cause the fire to spread.
Fire has been ‘dirty burn’
He said peak burning time is usually around noon as the humidity drops, but the fire can change drastically and quickly depending on conditions.
Steeves said so far, the brush fire has been a “dirty burn,” meaning it hopped around. It burned in patches, leaving some areas not touched that could potentially “reburn.”
The province will have 30 firefighters and overhead personnel on scene Sunday, while Halifax Fire is set to have 25 staff, Steeves said.
Two helicopters, two fire engines, and five water tankers are also on scene.
In an update just after 6 a.m. AT, Halifax Fire district Chief Brad Connors said they had two Halifax Fire crews patrolling the area all night.
He also said Halifax Fire had its drone in the air mapping “various hot spots,” so the incident commander could take that information and have certain areas to concentrate on Sunday morning.
More than 170 homes evacuated so far
Halifax Fire said 174 homes along West Porters Lake Road from Highway 107 to Marjorie Drive and Capri Drive were evacuated on Saturday. Houses south of that line were on standby.
Whether they can go back home Sunday will depend on the state of the fire, Connors said.
No homes had been directly affected by the fire as of early Sunday morning.
The entire evacuation order impacts 1,000 people, Halifax Fire said, but that number includes people in nearby Mineville, N.S. who have not left yet but are prepared to do so if needed.
Crews concerned about wind shifts: councillor
In an update around 7:30 a.m Sunday, area councillor David Hendsbee wrote he was aware of some details from the morning operations meeting with the province and Halifax Fire.
He said firefighters will be on the ground by 8 a.m. and helicopters in the sky by 10 a.m. when conditions are considered safe enough to enter into the “hot zone.”
Everyone is concerned about a “shift in wind,” Hendsbee said.
Right now, the forecast shows a reversal of wind direction from the southwest, so “hopefully that will blow the fire back upon itself.”
But if the wind direction changes again, they may need to increase the evacuation zone.
Ground search and rescue teams and the municipal Emergency Management Office will also be back on Sunday morning.
The Porters Lake Community Centre has also reopened to serve as a relief station for first responders.
Roads around the fire still closed
Highway 107 remains closed between Exit 18 and Exit 20.
Local roads in the West Porters Lake area will remain blocked Sunday to ensure residents don’t return home, Hendsbee said, and to prevent onlookers from interfering with firefighting efforts.
The province has said Lands and Forestry staff first responded to the brush fire, which began in the area just north of Highway 107, around 12:30 p.m. AT.
The fire then hopped across Highway 107 and headed south toward the Atlantic coast.
The Lake Echo Community Centre on Highway 7 has been set up as a comfort centre for evacuees to drop in for a hot drink, charge their devices and stay safe.
It closed overnight but was to reopen at 8.a.m on Sunday for residents to check in again and receive updates on the fire.