Forest fires blaze out of control, Wemotaci evacuated

MONTREAL – At least 15 forest fires are burning out of control Thursday in Quebec, the majority in the Mauricie and Abitibi regions.

A total of 47 fires have been reported across the province as of noon Thursday, says the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (Sopfeu). The strong winds and lightening storms that swept through Wednesday only exacerbated the problem, the Quebec forest-fire prevention agency said.

The First Nations community of Wemotaci was evacuated Wednesday afternoon as several fires blazed about 400 kilometres north of Montreal.

About 1,300 people were removed from the native community, leaving only police, firefighters and other emergency personnel on site, according to police.

School buses full of residents were taken to La Tuque, the largest community nearby, police said. About 300 residents bunked down at a La Tuque high school, while others went to stay with family, friends or at a hotel.

The provincial police said fire damage in the Wemotaci reserve was limited to a home and a few sheds.

Some residents at another reserve in the area, the First Nations community of Obedjiwan, have been evacuated to escape the smoke from a nearby fire.

A fire near the Manouane reserve, north of Mont Tremblant, is being monitored in case the community needs to be evacuated.

The number of forest fires that have broken out across Quebec is slightly elevated for this time of year, Sopfeu spokesperson Melanie Morin said.

It is hard to compare fire statistics from one year to another, given the different levels of rain that fall each spring and summer, Morin said. But the 293 forest fires reported this year to date are above the 10-year average of 208, she said.

For information on forest-fire warnings and open-fire prohibitions across Quebec check the agency web site at 杭州夜生活

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