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By Peter D'Entremont

Nova Scotia is very forested.  Much of the interior is thickly wooded with very little settlement and fewer roads as most of the population inhabits the coast.  My father’s hometown of Pubnico is a fishing village on the southwest shore with its harbor opening into the Bay of Fundy.


The region just had its worst forest fires ever or, by some accounts, worst in a hundred years.  Fires near the largest city, Halifax, destroyed hundreds of homes and another fire, near Pubnico, destroyed at least sixty.  Fortunately, there were no casualties and temporary shelter was arranged very quickly.  This is a rural area and people look out for each other.


In my lifetime I have never worried about fire and I have no experience with loss from one.  We have a small summer house in Pubnico that my father built about 60 years ago.  It’s on the harbor and thick forest is just across the road.  Then I saw this photograph taken from the other side of the harbor.  The flames appeared to be not far from the house.  We were not there but my daughter, who took the photo, came over and removed some irreplaceable possessions from the house as a precaution.  Our neighbors had bags packed ready to evacuate if the wind shifted.


My father told us many stories about growing up in Pubnico and some of them had to do with fire.  Lightning strikes were a serious threat in the early twentieth century and his father’s store and barn burned down from one of them.  My mother was deathly afraid of fire as our first house burned before I was born and my older sister was an infant.  My mother would scour the house for any small appliance such as an iron or toaster that was not unplugged, sometimes keeping the family waiting in the car for several minutes while she went from room to room searching.


A home destroyed by fire is a great personal loss.  A town destroyed by fire, as many of you in the western part of North America have experienced, can destroy much, much more – a way of life, one’s heritage.  Pubnico was founded in 1653.  It wraps around both sides of a large harbor and the eastern side, where we live, is more exposed to the inland forest and any forest fire.  Nearby towns are similarly exposed and some of those bore the brunt of the recent fire, suffering all the damage and now working to recover from it all.


In Pubnico now we just completed two months of rainy weather.  In fact, recent rains helped to get the fires under control.  Now the rains are the fiercest I have ever seen here, almost tropical style rains coming down in sheets with thunder and lightning.  No longer normal, summertime here was usually a dance between foggy days and clear sunny days.  Instead, we’ve traded smoke-filled skies for stormy ones, and I take nothing for granted, not the weather and not the safety of our town.

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