Jeff Masters Hurricane Blog

What it was like to be a volunteer firefighter during the 2023 Canada fires » Yale Climate Connections


In late May, the volunteer fire department in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia, received reports of a brush fire in the heavily wooded Halifax suburb.

Station captain Cole Jean and his six-man crew took off for the scene.

Jean: “We could immediately see the large volume of smoke — heavy black and gray smoke … and as we kind of got a little closer, we could finally see the full extent of what we were walking into.”

The fire quickly expanded into a huge inferno that raged for more than a week, destroying more than 150 homes.

It was one of many severe wildfires in eastern Canada this year.

Research by the World Weather Attribution Initiative found that climate change more than doubled the risk of the hot, dry conditions that led to the devastation.

In Upper Tantallon, career firefighters arrived from across the region to battle the blaze.

But in the beginning, it was Jean and his small crew of volunteers, dealing with a fast-growing emergency that threatened their community and loved ones.

Jean: “Words will never describe how proud I am of every volunteer firefighter that came out to this.”

And as global warming causes more extreme fires, volunteers will be on the front lines, fighting to keep their communities safe.

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media





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