1 of 3 | Crews in Atlantic Canada are using a brief period of rain to gain ground on massive wildfires in Nova Scotia that has caused widespread damage. Photo by Government of Nova Scotia
June 3 (UPI) -- Crews in Atlantic Canada are using a brief period of rain on Saturday to gain ground on massive wildfires in Nova Scotia that have caused a widespread and extensive damage.
Nova Scotia Premier premier Tim Houston told reporters the fires have caused a "breathtaking amount of damage" and that the welcome rainfall is giving firefighters a chance to make some headway.
Four of the province's 14 total wildfires are currently burning out of control, scorching 89 square miles so far.
"Weather has favored the fires all week, not the firefighters. We're hopeful this will soon change," Houston said Friday.
Rain early Saturday morning gave firefighters a window to move from defense to offense, but officials cautioned it won't turn the tide quickly.
"I will caution that this rain does not yet mean we are out of the woods, but we are now able to have our ground crews kick it into high gear and get into these places we have not been able to set foot on in days to kick some ash," Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Dave Rockwood told the CBC
The department currently has about 90 paid firefighters on the ground along with 40 volunteer municipal firefighters and 18 additional members from outside of the province. A water bomber and five helicopters are helping to fight the flames.
About 5,000 people remain evacuated from their homes -- down from a high of 16,000 earlier in the week.
Residents are still required to show ID when passing police checkpoints to return to areas where evacuation orders have been lifted.
Approximately 150 homes have been destroyed by fire so far around Halifax with an additional 50 lost around Shelburne in the southern part of Nova Scotia.
Houston, however, attempted to look at the positives.
"Through all this despair, zero deaths, zero missing persons, zero serious injuries." he said. "This says a lot about the professionalism of our first responders leading the response.
"No lives lost, but an absolutely breathtaking amount of damage and many, many lives turned upside down."