Canadian officials announced a fine of more than $18,000 on Wednesday for anyone in Nova Scotia who violates a province-wide burn ban implemented this week as wildfires continue to rage in the region, which has prompted air quality alerts in the northeastern US.
The fires, which have spanned more than 42,000 acres as of Wednesday, destroyed buildings and produced huge plumes of smoke as Nova Scotia struggles with record-breaking heat. Officials on Monday announced the province-wide burn ban, expected to stay in place until June 25, due to the “seriousness of the current fires.”
“Yesterday I told you there were six burns overnight,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said during a news conference Wednesday. “Last night? At least eight. At least eight more reckless people chose to burn. I do not know what they are thinking.”
During the news conference, Houston said, “Anyone who burns in this province, anyone who disrespects the provincewide burn ban” can be subject to a fine of 25,000 Canadian dollars ($18,430).The fine was initially set at 237.50 Canadian dollars.
“The forests are simply too dry. The conditions are too volatile,” Houston said.
The province’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables said Wednesday that 17 firefighters are traveling from New York and New Hampshire to help Nova Scotia fight the wildfires starting on Saturday, according to a news release.
“We’re taking every measure to prevent new fires from starting,” said Tory Rushton, the province’s minister of natural resources and renewables. “All Nova Scotians need to do their part – follow the burn ban, stay out of the woods and help keep your families and communities safe.”
There were at least 14 active wildfires burning throughout the province on Wednesday afternoon, with at least three that remain “out of control,” according to Scott Tingley, manager of forest protection for the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
Province remains hot and windy amid wildfires
The National Weather Service issued a Code Orange air quality alert for New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia region, which means air pollution concentrations in there may become unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the elderly and young children. Those groups should minimize time outdoors and avoid strenuous activity, the NWS added.
The smoke may be close enough to the ground that the affected area will see several hours with elevated concentrations of “fine particulate matter,” CNN reported. These microscopic particles have a diameter of less than 2.5 microns – significantly smaller than the average width of a human hair. Their tiny size allows them easier access deep into lungs, which can exacerbate the effects of respiratory diseases such as asthma.
From Wednesday through Thursday, the region continues to be warm and windy without any rain in the forecast, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country’s federal environmental agency. Thursday will be the hottest day of the week and scattered showers will begin to move into the region on Friday with rain expected this weekend, which will bring cooler temperatures.
Smoke from the wildfires burning in Tantallon, part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, has reduced visibility and air quality in the area and strong winds have allowed smoke to spread to communities north and east of the municipality, according to CNN meteorologists.
CNN’s Taylor Ward and Derek Van Dam contributed to this report.