Residents forced to leave Port-Cartier due to fires can return

Residents forced to leave Port-Cartier due to fires can return
Residents forced to leave Port-Cartier due to fires can return

A forest fire near Port-Cartier, on the North Shore, led to the evacuation of residences north of Route 138 on Thursday. On Monday afternoon, city authorities authorized the return of residents, while mentioning that the situation could change quickly.

“The situation is far from being resolved,” underlined the mayor of Port-Cartier, Alain Thibault, before announcing the lifting of the evacuation order. “Caution remains essential,” he added, specifying that the Sûreté du Québec will be on site to help residents return to their homes safely.

Melanie Morin, prevention and communications officer for the Society for the Protection of Forests Against Fire (SOPFEU), clarified that two fires were still out of control in the region and that with the hot and dry weather, these will be active during the day.

The first fire, located west and east of Walker Lake, is still considered out of control and is approximately 1,165 hectares in size. Ms. Morin indicated that 28 forest firefighters were on the ground Monday, in the southern portion of the fire, in addition to four air tankers.

“It’s not impossible to see smoke plugs, to smell smoke in inhabited areas,” she said.

The situation is similar with regard to the second fire, in the Morin Lake sector. This one, located approximately 12 km north of Port-Cartier, extends over approximately 919 hectares and is also out of control. Some 24 forest firefighters are working there, in addition to two heavy helicopters doing “continuous watering,” said Ms. Morin.

The next rain is not expected until Wednesday.

Monday morning, the dense smoke emanating from the area made fire mapping difficult for SOPFEU teams. We should therefore not be surprised to see the number of hectares affected by fires increase in the coming days, indicated Melanie Morin.

The general director of Port-Cartier, Nicolas Mayrand, for his part, invited citizens to save drinking water. He said the air quality was stable for now.

Smoke from forest fires no longer causes poor air quality in Port-Cartier and Sept-Îles, Environment Canada mentioned Monday morning, while warning that a change in wind direction could lead to a deterioration of air quality in the coming hours. The City of Port-Cartier also mentioned that air quality will once again be an issue to monitor throughout the day.

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