A provincial wildfire officer says a large fire burning near a remote lake in southwest Nova Scotia may have been started by human activity, as two helicopters continued Tuesday to drop water on the flames.
Kara McCurdy, wildfire prevention officer for the Department of Natural Resources, said Tuesday morning one of the pilots estimates the fire near South Horseshoe Lake in eastern Yarmouth County to be about 25 hectares.
McCurdy said the fire started Monday afternoon and because the area is so remote, DNR brought in a helicopter from Shubenacadie in central Nova Scotia to drop water on the flames.
“Today, because of the weather, we’re concerned with the low humidity and high winds that it will pick up, so we sent an additional helicopter,” she said.
There are two DNR crews from Shelburne and Yarmouth assisting — 12 personnel and two pilots.
Here’s a look at the latest visible satellite loop where you can clearly see the Horseshoe Lake wildfire underway.
Note the winds pushing the smoke westward into Yarmouth county.
An special air quality statement is in effect. https://t.co/ODHaXIQRr0#nswx pic.twitter.com/ECt4tM46aO
“Conditions really aren’t ideal for the crews today, with low humidity and breezy easterly winds helping to fuel the fire,” said CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon.
Snoddon said lighter winds and higher humidity levels are on the way for Wednesday, with a chance of some light showers and drizzle.
“Unfortunately, there’s no substantial precipitation in the forecast until at least Sunday,” he said.
McCurdy said she suspects the fire is human-caused because there hasn’t been any recent lightning activity.
She said although the fire is considered to be “out of control” and “fast moving,” there aren’t any homes or businesses at risk at the moment.
“We just ask that residents really follow the burn restrictions that are posted daily and not burn in the morning,” she said.
“Make sure that you’re checking in every day at 2 o’clock to see if you’re allowed to burn. Even if you are allowed to burn and it’s windy, be mindful of where you have your brush pile or campfire… because it’s super dry right now.”
Aaron Pottier, fire chief for the Quinan Fire Department, said Tuesday because the fire is in a fairly remote area, his department has not yet been called upon to help battle the blaze.
Pottier said there was quite a lot of smoke in the air in his community, which is located about 20 kilometers south of the fire.
“It was thick, at times, depending where the wind was blowing, and at times it settles a little bit toward the ground a little bit more. So, yesterday afternoon around suppertime there was a fair bit of smoke close to the ground in and around the community,” he said.
“The more the wind blows, the higher up it seems to go. This morning, again it comes and goes. There’s a bit of a smoke haze around, but it comes and goes and there’s definitely a smell of smoke in the air.”
Environment Canada is warning about elevated pollution levels. According to the national weather service, satellite imagery Monday evening showed the fire was located about 40 kilometers northeast of the town of Yarmouth. The smoke plume was staying north of Yarmouth but could also affect air quality near Beaver River and Port Maitland.
“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk,” said Environment Canada’s statement.