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Costs of Fighting Forest Fire Should Be Recovered

News Release

Costs of Fighting Forest Fire Should be Recovered

(Friday, June 23/2000)-- Halifax Regional Municipality should make every effort to recover its full cost of providing emergency services to fight the forest fire in Hammonds Plains area this week should charges be laid against a business or company, Bedford Councillor Peter Kelly said today.

Councillor Kelly said the municipality has a responsibility to the taxpayer to recover these costs should any business or company be successfully prosecuted for allowing the devastating forest fire to start, which eventually led to the evacuation of more than 450 homes in the area.

Officials say the fire started at the end of St. George's Boulevard in the Kingswood Subdivision at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday and quickly burned out of control, narrowly missing many residences in the area. At times, the Kingswood Subdivision, the Blue Mountain Subdivision (on the Kearney Lake Road) and the community of Beechville were threatened.

Emergency crews from the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Fire Service, volunteer firefighters, the Halifax Regional Police, HRM Emergency Measures personnel, the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests and the RCMP were quickly on the scene.

As many as 120 firefighters a day battled the blaze over a two day period. Rainfall on Thursday morning eventually gave the fire crews a reprieve and they were able to partially contain the blaze, which claimed approximately 300 acres (127 hectares) of forest. Natural Resources crews remain in the scene today, extinguishing the blaze and watching for hot spots.

Councillor Kelly said if it is found that the fire was caused through negligence or other means, the taxpayers should not have to foot the bill and HRM should make every effort to recover our costs.

"I understand that each agency is adding up its costs for such things as overtime, supplies and materials provided, equipment costs, helicopter flying time and anything else that was required in the effort," he said.

The Councillor said "This experience should serve as a lesson to all. Open fires are dangerous and every measure should be taken to ensure there is no opportunity for them to get out of control. We have laws and regulations (permits) governing open fires and these must be followed."

The Councillor visited the Emergency Measure Operations on site at the Kingswood Subdivision on Thursday and had a first-hand opportunity to observe the various emergency services in action.

"I was certainly impressed with I saw and I want to extend my personal congratulations and thanks to everyone who was involved in the operation. It was professional operation in every sense of the word. If it were not for these individuals and their actions, the outcome certainly could have been worse, " he said.

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Councillor Peter Kelly
(902) 490-4450 or (902) 835-6097 (home)