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Rain forecast promises relief after week of wildfires in Canada

Rain forecast promises relief after week of wildfires in Canada

Rain on Friday and a rainy forecast for the weekend has given fire officials hope that they can get the largest wildfire ever recorded in Canada’s Atlantic Coast province of Nova Scotia under control.

The wildfire and three others in the province have prompted air quality warnings in US regions as far south as Virginia and Maryland.

“My weather app says 80% change rain. Giddy up to that,” Halifax mayor Mike Savage tweeted.

The Barrington Lake fire in Nova Scotia’s southwest is now considered the province’s largest wildfire on record.

Burning more than 77 square miles, the blaze continues to withstand round after round of water bombers and air tankers dropping water and fire retardant from the cloudy skies.

But rain is forecast in that area and for the provincial capital, Halifax, where another wildfire has forced the evacuation of thousands.

The wet weather is set to continue from Friday into Monday and Tuesday next week.

“We’re really hopeful with this break in the weather that we can really get in and do some positive work,” Dave Rockwood, public information officer for the department of natural resources and renewables, told The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation early Friday

“I’ve never been so happy to see rain,” Halifax deputy fire chief David Meldrum said. He said it was not enough yet but officials were hopeful about the current forecast.

The fires in Shelburne County, which have been burning since Sunday, have forced more than 5,000 people from their homes, 50 of which have been consumed by flames.

Spring in Nova Scotia was unusually dry, the province only received about half the usual amount of rainfall in April, according to the Earth Observatory of the US space agency, Nasa.

Meanwhile, some residents of areas northwest of the city have now been told that their homes were destroyed by the fast-moving fire after they were evacuated earlier this week.

Fire officials said 200 structures, including 151 houses, were claimed by the fire in suburban Halifax, which has been burning out of control for nearly a week, as has the Barrington Lake fire.

In all, 16,000 Halifax-area residents have been evacuated from their homes.

Earlier in the day, fire officials said 50% of the Halifax fire had been contained. They confirmed it had not grown since Wednesday but it remained out of control.

“We so far have no reported missing people or injuries,” Halifax mayor Mike Savage said. “It is a miracle and a testament to the quick work of first responders.”

US officials as far south as Maryland, Baltimore, Virginia and Pennsylvania reported being affected by the Canadian wildfires.