Nearly 40 forest fires that had been brought under control by firefighters could get out of control again in the coming days, due to dry and hot weather and a lack of precipitation.
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The key sectors of Lac-Saint-Jean, Nord-du-Québec and Abitibi-Témiscamingue are on the alert, while the situation will be “difficult” in the coming days, warned the Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, during a press briefing on Wednesday morning.
“The fires that had been contained, we are talking about forty fires, can go out of control,” said the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests, Maïté Blanchette Vézina.
“The situation remains very difficult this week. We do not see any improvement from a weather point of view or from a precipitation point of view, ”she added.
The Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, and the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests, Maïté Blanchette Vézina, provided an update on the situation of forest fires in Quebec, Wednesday morning.
Photo Simon Baillargeon
Just over 1,000 people were evacuated, including nearly 200 citizens from certain areas of Val-d’Or. Nearly 200 Hydro-Quebec employees working in the LG-3 and LG-4 power stations were also evacuated, as were mine site workers.
Minister Bonnardel indicated that 86 fires are active in the intensive zone and that nearly one million hectares of territory have burned since the start of the season.
- Listen to Alexandre Dubé’s interview with Guy Lafrenière, Mayor of Lebel-sur-Quévillon, via QUB-radio:
Faced with the return in force of the fires, Quebec has made requests for additional staff in order to maintain a “sufficient strike force to intervene on the fires”.
Firefighters from Portugal and Spain, who arrived a week ago, “should leave [le Québec] next week,” said Minister Blanchette Vézina.
“Nearly 30 additional sections have been requested,” she said, adding that we are aiming for a threshold of 1,600 personnel on the ground.
A huge fire
On the side of Lebel-sur-Quévillon, the fire which threatens the municipality is now “three times the size of Lac Saint-Jean”, announced the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests. “The fire merged with five other fires,” she said.
It is not excluded that citizens of the municipality could be evacuated again, those who had to leave their residence for two weeks, earlier this month.
During a press briefing on Wednesday morning, Mayor Guy Lafrenière confirmed that citizens must be ready in the event of an evacuation, and he encourages the population to move.
Ban on open fires
Ministers Bonnardel and Blanchette Vézina recalled the ban on open fires and fireworks north of the St. Lawrence River.
A few hours before the National Day festivities, François Bonnardel asks that the instructions be respected, “given the circumstances”, and he recalls that the “police officers will be present” during the festivities.
– With QMI Agency