Fire moves closer to Churchill Falls, power station partly evacuated

Churchill Falls emergency services say Firefighting efforts will continue throughout the evening. We are reflecting and remaining focused on supporting residents and other evacuees of Churchill Falls they emphasize in a press release on Thursday.

The Churchill Falls power plant produces 15% of the electricity consumed in Quebec and 25% of that used in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Emergency services say the power station continues to operate at full capacityemphasizing that his teams analyze potential scenariosnotably to determine a production approach if crews are ordered to evacuate.

For her part, Caroline Desrosiers, spokesperson for Hydro-Québec, affirmed that the current forest fires in Labrador do not present a risk for the electricity supply in Quebec.

Network reliability is maintainedshe explains.

Churchill Falls represents a significant part of electricity production for the Quebec network, but we have several other sources of production that are available at the moment.

Ms. Desrosiers recalls that the Hydro-Québec network is designed to support winter peaks in consumption of up to a demand of 40,000 to 42,000 megawatts, which is well below the current summer peak.

Demand is between 20,000 and 25,000 megawatts. That’s 50% less. We have a lot of capabilities. Other sources of production could compensate in the event of a reduction in production somewhere in the networkshe assures.

Fighting fires

As of Thursday morning, the most threatening fire was about five kilometers from the municipality, but had still not crossed the Churchill River.

Seven blazes are currently burning in Labrador, including four that are not under control. Conditions were particularly unfavorable during the night from Wednesday to Thursday, with violent thunderstorms.

In total, around forty firefighters are deployed in the area, as well as several helicopters. Four air tankers are in action in the area.

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High temperatures, strong winds and dry weather worry authorities, who continue to monitor weather conditions conducive to the outbreak of forest fires.

The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Andrew Furey, provided an update on the situation on Thursday noon.

He indicated that the province had requested reinforcements from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, whose role is to coordinate the deployment of firefighters and their equipment.

In Quebec, the Society for the protection of forests against fireSOPFEU confirmed to Radio-Canada that two tanker planes, accompanied by an aeropointer, a coordination plane, will be deployed to Churchill Falls as of Thursday evening. Newfoundland and Labrador has not requested any forest firefighters from Quebec at this time.

Premier Furey also announced a ban on open fires across the province.

Residents evacuated

The municipality’s approximately 600 residents and 200 Hydro Newfoundland and Labrador contractors were evacuated Wednesday evening (new window).

They found shelter in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is a three-hour drive away.

Residents of the municipality of Churchill Falls had only a few minutes Wednesday evening to leave their homes.

With information from Patrick Butler

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