Good afternoon. I'm C/Supt. Sue Black, the Criminal Operations Officer for the Nova Scotia RCMP. Thank you for allowing me a few minutes to provide an update on our response to the wildfires.
Je suis la surintendante principale Sue Black, l'officière responsable des enquêtes criminelles de la GRC de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Merci de m'accorder quelques minutes pour faire le point sur notre réponse aux incendies de forêt.
My remarks will be delivered in English today, however, my remarks in both official languages will be available on our divisional website at rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Mes remarques seront prononcées en anglais aujourd'hui, mais elles seront disponibles dans les deux langues officielles sur le site Web de notre division à rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Beginning in Shelburne County: On Saturday evening, our officers became involved in the response to the wildfire in the Barrington Lake area. We began closing portions of Highway 103 to traffic due to the proximity of the fire to the highway and the risk this presented to motorists. Our officers maintained a presence overnight and assisted the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, the Shelburne County East Emergency Management Office and the local volunteer fire fighters, wherever we could.
Early Sunday morning, Highway 103 was reopened to traffic; however a few hours later, our officers again had to close a portion of Highway 103. Shortly after 1 p.m., our officers, with assistance from local Ground Search and Rescue volunteers, began conducting evacuations along the Upper Clyde Road and Highway 103 in Clyde River.
By late evening on Sunday, Highway 103 was closed between exit 27 and exit 29, and mandatory evacuations were in effect for a number of communities, with other communities subjected to recommended evacuations.
Yesterday and today, our officers are continuing to work with our partner agencies, and evacuations and road closures have continued. For a list of all road closures in Shelburne County, please consult the Nova Scotia 511 website.
To date, over 600 homes and 2,000 people have been evacuated across Shelburne County.
We're maintaining a presence of approximately 15-20 officers; these officers are conducting proactive patrols in the evacuated communities, in an effort to keep your communities safe.
Moving on to the fire in the Tantallon area: Just before 4 p.m. on Sunday, our officers began responding to reports of a wildfire originating in the Westwood Hills subdivision in Upper Tantallon. The fire was described as fast moving, and a number of structures were already engulfed in flames.
Our officers began evacuating people as quickly as possible and we communicated information about the evacuation publicly. As the fire continued to spread, we began closing roads and continued with evacuation efforts.
By late evening on Sunday, the Hammonds Plains Road was closed between Upper Tantallon and Lucasville, and the Lucasville Road was closed to Middle Sackville. Our officers continued evacuating many neighbourhoods, with assistance from Halifax Search and Rescue volunteers, Halifax Regional Police officers and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency employees.
Since Sunday, our officers and employees have continued to work with our partner agencies. We're maintaining a presence of approximately 40 officers; our officers are conducting proactive patrols of evacuated communities and manning checkpoints where road closures are in place.
With regard to the wildfire in Pubnico: Our officers responded to the area yesterday evening and remained on scene until it was determined that no evacuations or road closures were required. Our officers are maintaining communication with officials at the scene, and should our assistance be required, we'll respond accordingly.
Looking forward to the days ahead: Our officers and employees will continue to support the ongoing response to the wildfires across the province.
For those Nova Scotians who've been evacuated, our thoughts and support are with you. We know that evacuations may cause anxiety or stress, but the evacuated areas remain dangerous. So, please, do not attempt to return home to get medication or belongings.
If you require medication that was left behind, please contact your local health professionals or pharmacies.
For those who've had to leave pets behind, RCMP officers in the Tantallon area are escorting residents to their homes when it's safe to do so; this is being done on a case-by-case basis. If you're in the Shelburne area and have a pet in an evacuated area, please contact the Shelburne or Barrington RCMP to discuss options. Our goal is to help.
We want to remind the public to avoid all evacuated communities, to allow firefighters and other first responders to do their work safely. Please follow directions from the Emergency Management Offices in each area. We also ask for the public's patience as first responders continue to fight the fires.
Lastly, we want to warn Nova Scotians of scams in relation to wildfire financial relief. If you receive a text message, email or phone call from someone looking for money, it's likely a scam. Legitimate fundraising is being administered by the Canadian Red Cross.
The safety of the public and first responders is our top priority, and we'll continue to work with all partner agencies and stakeholders as the response to these wildfires continue.