By Michelle Watson and Zoe Sottile | CNN
Raging wildfires that have burned through thousands of acres have forced more than 16,000 Canadians to evacuate their homes and triggered a burn ban in Nova Scotia, as the region experiences record-breaking heat.
Officials say the fires, which span a total of more than 25,000 acres and have been deemed “out of control” by officials, have destroyed multiple buildings and caused huge plumes of smoke to tower over the region. As of Monday, more than 16,000 people were forced to evacuate the area around Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city.
The number of people who have been forced from their homes is about 16,429, Erica Fleck, Division Chief of Emergency Management of the Halifax Regional Municipality, said in a news conference Monday.
Authorities also said about 400 people have been evacuated from Shelbourne County in southwest Nova Scotia.
“Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by these fires,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said. “We know you are experiencing uncertainty and distress. We see that and want to try to ease a small portion of the financial stress.”
Every household required to evacuate will receive $500 administered through the Canadian Red Cross, according to a Monday news release. The funds are intended to help with what Houston called “urgent needs such as food and personal care items.”
Officials in Nova Scotia also announced a province wide burn ban Monday due to the “seriousness of the current fires.”
“The ban will remain in place until June 25 unless the Province determines it can be lifted sooner,” officials said in a news release. “Anyone who contravenes the ban can be subject to prosecution under the Forest Act.”
Trudeau: ‘Wildfire situation in Nova Scotia is incredibly serious’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the wildfires “incredibly serious” in a tweet Monday.
“We stand ready to provide any federal support and assistance needed,” Trudeau said. “We’re keeping everyone affected in our thoughts, and we’re thanking those who are working hard to keep people safe.”
A wildfire burning in Nova Scotia’s Westwood Hills and Tantallon areas is “out of control,” a Monday news release said. The blaze currently spans about 1,947 acres.
More than 200 crews from agencies across the province have been sent to help battle the blaze. Officials say there are 35 fire trucks, two helicopters and a water bomber being used as officials cautioned wind gusts of up to 40 mph could cause the fire to spread.
Another fire, which is burning in the Barrington Lake and Shelburne County areas in southwest Nova Scotia, continued to rapidly grow Monday. The blaze, which is officials say is also “out of control,” scorched nearly 24,000 acres as of Monday evening, a news release said. Officials in the release noted “some structures have been destroyed and others are threatened, but there are no firm details on the numbers yet from the area.”
As Nova Scotia deals with the fires, the western province of Alberta has been battling wildfires for weeks, CNN previously reported. A Sunday release from its emergency management arm said about 3,501 people remain evacuated and “more than 2,700 personnel” continue to fight the blaze.
Fire danger in Alberta is still “very high or extreme in the northern regions of the province, moderate to very high in the central and southern regions, and moderate to very high from the central region to the northern slopes of the Rocky Mountains,” the Sunday release said.