Thousands Evacuate From Nova Scotia Wildfires

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) -- Wildfires in Canada's Atlantic coast province of Nova Scotia have caused thousands to evacuate.

The Halifax Regional Municipality said late Monday that preliminary estimates indicate approximately 200 homes or structures have been damaged, based on initial visual inspections by first responders.

Halifax deputy fire Chief David Meldrum said an estimated 14,000 people were told to flee their homes, most of which are about a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown Halifax.

As firefighters spent a second day battling a wildfire in suburban Halifax, some residents from evacuated subdivisions received the grim news that their homes were among those destroyed by the wind-driven flames. Katherine Tarateski said police told her her home was burned down and they couldn't find her pets.

Tarateski said she was with her husband Nick and their young daughter Mia at a family gathering on Sunday when they heard about the approaching fires and rushed back to their home in Hammonds Plains to save their dog and cat. But when they arrived police had already blocked their street.

"The house can be rebuilt," she said. "But my pets ... I'm just devastated. It's hard."

Fire officials said the out-of-control fire, which started Sunday in nearby Upper Tantallon, has destroyed or damaged dozens of homes, though there hadn't been any reports of deaths or injuries.

By early afternoon, Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources confirmed the wildfire covered about 8 square kilometers (3 miles). Meldrum said firefighters had concentrated on battling spot fires in residential areas in order to protect buildings and prevent the fire's spread.

"This fire has not been contained, this fire is not under control," he said. "It did not spread appreciably and that is thanks to weather, the work of the firefighters on the ground and the work of the air units."

However, Meldrum stressed a change in weather conditions forecast for Tuesday could complicate things.

David Steeves, a forest resources technician with Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources, said the fire was helped by a lack of rain and a wooded area thick with softwood trees, which provide a volatile fuel source. "It was perfect conditions for a fast, quick, dangerous fire," Steeves said.

No additional evacuations were ordered Monday, despite challenging conditions. In all, about 200 firefighters were battling the fire on Monday.