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Charges laid in Shelburne County wildfire

The fire in Shelburne County was the largest wildfire in Nova Scotia's history. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)
The fire in Shelburne County was the largest wildfire in Nova Scotia's history. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)

A 22-year-old man has been charged in relation to the wildfire in Shelburne County, the largest in Nova Scotia's history.

The provincial Natural Resources Department said Dalton Clark Stewart of Villagedale, N.S., is facing the following charges under the Forests Act:

  • Lighting a fire on privately owned land without permission of the owner or occupier;

  • Failing to take reasonable efforts to prevent the spread of a fire;

  • Leaving a fire unattended.

A news release said Stewart is scheduled to appear in Shelburne provincial court on March 7.

The wildfire near Barrington Lake broke out late last May, grew to 23,525 hectares and burned for one month before being declared extinguished.

Meanwhile, about 150 homes were lost in a separate wildfire in Upper Tantallon and Hammonds Plains, near Halifax. That fire started around the same time.

The department continues to pursue all leads related to the wildfire in Upper Tantallon, the release said.

"While the department has gathered considerable information, there is a high bar for what can be used as evidence in court," it said.

Penalties include up to six months in prison

Kasey DeMings, a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his home in the Barrington Lake fire, said it's nice to see someone held accountable, but he is personally trying to move forward.

"We can't keep living in the past of what happened, What happened, happened and it's done and over with," DeWings said in a phone interview on Thursday.

"It will make people think before they do this stuff. But as a human being, we've all done stuff that we regret. We've all done stuff that didn't turn out the way we wanted to."

Kasey DeMings is a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his own home in the Shelburne County wildfire in May.
Kasey DeMings is a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his own home in the Shelburne County wildfire in May.

Kasey DeMings is a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his own home in the Shelburne County wildfire in May. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

People convicted of violations of the Forests Act can be fined up to $50,000 and can be sentenced to as much as six months in prison.

"The court will determine the outcome of the charges, including any penalties," the release said.

Under the Forests Act, the department has two years from the date of an alleged offence to lay charges.

Charges are only laid if the department, in consultation with the Public Prosecution Service, believes there is sufficient evidence for a conviction.

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