Media Guide to Forest Fires - Fire Information

Fire Season

Fire season is a period designated in the Forest Act to represent the time of year when forest fires are most likely to occur. During the fire season, more stringent regulations of the use of fire are in place. The Department of Natural Resources (NR&R) issues burning permits (often in addition to local burning permits required by the municipality). NR&R offices also begin Fire Duty Scheduling; staff are designated to be responsible for responding to forest f res in their areas. Fire season is usually April 1st to October 15th inclusive for Kings, Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens and Lunenburg and April 15th to October 15th inclusive for all other counties.

Fire Size

Fire size is usually just an estimate until after the fire is out, when it can be properly measured. Often, an accurate estimate is difficult due to the smoke and confusion that can accompany a large active fire. This is why a fire can end up being much bigger, or much smaller than originally thought. Nova Scotia measures its fires using the hectare (short form "ha" i.e. 20ha). The hectare is the metric unit of area measurement and can be considered in the following ways:
1 hectare = 2.47 acres
1 hectare = 100metres by 100 metres or 0.01 km²

For reference:
Total land area of Nova Scotia: 5.6 million ha*
Forested land area of Nova Scotia: 3.9 million ha*

* Source: The State of Canada's Forests 2001-2002. Natural Resources Canada

Nova Scotia's Largest Fires (1990 to present)

1. Porters Lake/Lake Echo,Halifax Co.
21 km perimeter, more than 50 agencies involved in response, 5,000 evacuated, 2 houses lost, no fatalities.
June 13, 2008 1925 ha
2. Woods Harbour, Shelburne Co. April 28, 1999 810 ha
3. Wallace Lake, Shelburne Co. May 20, 2003 795 ha
4. Spryfield, Halifax Co. April 29, 2009 681 ha
5. Goff's, Halifax Co. June 12, 1992 595 ha

Largest fire since the 1950s
Porcupine Lake near Trafalgar, Guysborough County. Started on June 4th, 1976 and burned for six days burning a total of about 13000ha.

Fire Causes

In many provinces a large number of forest fires are caused by lightning. In Nova Scotia only an average 3 per cent of fires start in this way. The remaining 97 per cent are caused by the activities of people, mostly accidental but sometimes deliberate. About one-third of person-caused fires are classed as "residential." These fires are caused by people engaged in activities - like debris and grass burning - on and around their property. Another major cause is arson, which accounts for about one quarter of the person-caused fires in this province in an average year. The cause of the fire is usually determined by an investigation after the fire has been declared out.