Homes evacuated as crews battle forest fire in Cole Harbour

More than a dozen homes were evacuated in a Cole Harbour, N.S., neighbourhood Sunday as crews battled a forest fire near a popular walking trail.

It started as a brush fire near the Salt Marsh Trail by Bissett Road Sunday afternoon and had spread out of control by Sunday evening.

Several fire departments, RCMP, and members of the Department of Natural Resources responded to the 20-acre fire.

Two DNR helicopters were called in to assist. They were seen filling their buckets in Bissett Lake and dumping them on the fire zone Sunday evening.

Dozens of residents who live near the trail evacuated their homes as a precaution.

“At the conditions at the time, it was decided in conjunction with DNR as a security measure to evacuate one end of Astral Drive, and as the fire continued, we decided to extend that evacuation to Beaver Crescent,” said Halifax Fire Deputy Chief Roy Hollett.

Cole Harbour Place was opened up for residents who evacuated their homes and volunteers were on site to assist them.

Residents on Beaver Crescent were allowed to return to their homes for the evening, but Astral Drive residents who evacuated their homes were unable to return.

Fire officials said there were 10 to 15 homes in the Astral Drive evacuation zone.

Fire crews had members patrolling the neighbourhood throughout the night as a precaution.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement, warning of elevated pollution levels. It says residents near the fire, or down wind of the fire, may experience smoke and elevated air pollution. It says residents may experiences 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.