Forest fires: Port-Cartier remains on alert

The situation remains worrying in Port-Cartier, but the forest fires which forced the evacuation of 1,000 citizens have not progressed since 11 p.m. Friday evening, the North Shore city announced at a press briefing on Saturday morning.

• Read also: Forest fires: nearly 1,000 citizens evacuated in Port-Cartier

Around 5 p.m. on Friday, a state of emergency was declared for a period of five days due to the presence of fires to the north of the municipality. Around 8 p.m., some 1,000 residents had been evacuated.

“We had to move quickly, but luckily everything went well. No major incident has been reported,” said Port-Cartier Mayor Alain Thibault on Saturday.

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The Director General of the City, Nicolas Mayrand, wanted to be reassuring and mentioned that the situation was essentially the same as at the end of the evening the day before.

“Last night, a little rain fell in the area, which was a lot of good. It’s not much, but at least it helps us,” he said.


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However, the municipality continues to monitor the situation closely. A game plan is established internally according to the evolution of the forest fires. If other evacuations take place, pre-alerts will be made to notify affected residents.

The municipality also invites the population to register on the citizen information line to obtain the latest information regarding the state of emergency and to follow the City’s announcements on its social networks.

Chronology of events

A first emergency call was made early Friday afternoon to inform the local fire safety service of the presence of a forest fire north of the municipality.

City teams therefore went to the site to assess the extent of the fire, which was already out of control and only 17 kilometers from the municipality.

“It was a fire that was extremely violent, extremely threatening for the city,” explained the director of the Port-Cartier fire department, David Lamarre.


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An emergency measures committee was then set up and SOPFEU was quickly called into action.

The fire located to the north grew in size in the hours that followed, approaching up to 13 kilometers from Port-Cartier and even 11 kilometers from the penitentiary located on the outskirts of the city.

Subsequently, a second fire located at Walker Lake and already recorded also grew in volume, becoming uncontrollable.

Due to the position of the flames, their progression and the winds, the municipality then decided to evacuate 1,000 of its residents.

“We are sorry if you felt rushed, but you will understand that there were a lot of things to put in place,” said Mayor Alain Thibault.

The penitentiary potentially evacuated

According to our information, the Correctional Service of Canada is preparing for a possible evacuation of the Port-Cartier penitentiary, an important maximum security building. This would be a complex operation, which requires a lot of security measures.

Late Friday evening, the Correctional Service confirmed that “a plan is in place to evacuate the Port-Cartier Institution.” Detainees will be moved to locations designated in advance. “We have put measures in place to ensure evacuations are carried out in a way that does not compromise the safety of the public, our staff or offenders in our custody.”

Citizens urged to remain cautious and vigilant

The City of Port-Cartier asks its citizens not to travel in the forest, not to make open fires and to monitor the fire danger which is currently very high.

The Member of Parliament for Duplessis and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord region, Kateri Champagne Jourdain, announced that the government was currently working to reactivate the financial assistance program put in place following the forest fires of the year last.

An amount of up to $1,500 should therefore be paid to the owners of each main residence affected by the evacuations.

“I know that this situation generates a lot of stress. We are always better at home. It’s not easy to ask you to have to leave your residences. All this is done in order to ensure your safety,” argued the CAQ minister.

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