Rain
falling over the Halifax region Friday helped crews tame a devastating
forest fire in an outlying community, while tears filled the eyes of
displaced residents as the reality of losing their homes started to
sink in.

 

 

The
Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service said the blaze that
started blowing through the Spryfield area Thursday afternoon was
finally under control by about noon hour Friday.

 


“We’re
happy that we’re having this rain; we just need more of it,” fire
department spokesman Lloyd Currie told reporters inside the Captain
William Spry Community Centre on Kidston Road, which has been set up as
a temporary shelter for those who have been evacuated.

“If we didn’t have the rain this fire may not be under control at this point.”



Currie
said the Natural Resources Department believes the brush fire was
sparked in the “general vicinity” of the McIntosh Run, although
investigators hadn’t yet pinpointed a cause.



He
said the wind-whipped flames and thick clouds of dark smoke spread
across an area between 800 and 1200 hectares, burning down eight homes
and damaging up to ten others, mostly on Aarons Way and Fortress Drive,
both off of Purcell’s Cove Road in Fergusons Cove.



“We warned the people as fast as we could,” Currie said.



Halifax
Mayor Peter Kelly told the media that provincial and city workers were
all on the ball “once they knew the severity and speed of this.”



Kelly
said one police officer suffered from smoke inhalation, but no other
injuries from the fire have been reported. Most pets were saved, but he
said a dog and two cats are presumed dead.



While
some angry residents told reporters they should have been alerted
earlier, Brett and Lara Ryan said they were impressed by the response
of emergency services.



“There
was just so much flame and smoke and it was just completely
overwhelming," said Brett, whose family of five lost their beloved home
at 14 Fortress Drive.



They returned to see what little was left of their house Friday, which Brett said did “provide a bit of closure.”



“If anything, we walk away from this just extremely grateful,” he said of at least having their lives.



Lara,
her voice cracking, said it’s tough to think about the baby pictures
and other sentimental belongings now gone forever. “It’s tough, of
course. It’s our home and we loved it.”



Currie
said about half of the 1,200 people who were forced out more than 400
homes had already returned to their residences by Friday afternoon.



Joanne
Lawlor of the Canadian Red Cross said professional crisis counsellors
and trained volunteers have been helping out however they can.