Quebecers threatened by forest fire rescued (publishedby cnews.canoe.ca, 6 June2005)
A Canadian military Hercules transport plane evacuated 92 people Monday froma northern Quebec community threatened by forest fire.
The aircraft from CFB Trenton, Ont., landed Monday morning on a gravel runwayat Eastman River, on the east side of James Bay. An attempt to land overnightwas aborted due to dense smoke and poor weather.
The people were taken to temporary shelter Val d’Or, Que.
“This is typical of the missions that the Air Force’s CC-130 Herculescrews are asked to undertake on a daily basis,” acting 1 Canadian AirDivision commander Brig.-Gen. Dwight Davies said in a statement.
“Hercules crews conduct a variety of tasks for Canadians fromhumanitarian operations, as in this case, through air-to-air refuelling offighters conducting the NORAD mission.”
Rain may lessen Quebec forest fire risk,officials say (published by www.cbc.ca,6 June2005)
Forest fire prevention officials say they hope the heavy rains predicted for northern Quebec this week will help quench some of the dozens of fires burning in the province.
The rain has already helped saved a number of homes in Chibougamau. Hundreds of people in the city returned to their homes on Monday after a fire forced them to flee on Sunday night.
Heavy rains during the night stopped the flames after they got to within 150 metres of some homes in the southeast part of the town, 420 kilometres north of Quebec City, and eventually pushed the fire back.
While Chibougamau appears safe for now, fire officials say about 60 fires are still burning across the province, with 22 of them raging out of control.
A second fire has caused provincial police to close Highway 167, which connects Chibougamau with the Lac St-Jean region. A few convoys have been allowed through under police escort.
Homes evacuated Sunday night
Radio-Canada correspondent Sebastien Bovet said about 100 houses were evacuated after 10 p.m. local time on Sunday, when the fire outside Chibougamau suddenly leaped closer to town.
About 200 people had been allowed back into their homes earlier Sunday after they were ordered out on Saturday.
Bovet said the fires smoulder up to 1.5 metres under the ground, making them hard to put out.
Firefighters from New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are helping the Quebec crews battle dozens of forest fires across the province.
Environment Canada is predicting thunderstorms and 10 to 15 millimetres of rain around Chibougamau today, but firefighters are worried by the forecast of 30 km/h winds, which could push the fires into new areas.
Firefighting crews remained on standby in Northern Quebec this morning,hoping that today’s expected rainy conditions would help dampen enormous forestfires that raged across the area.
Shifting, slower winds brought some optimism to officials who were able tosuspend the mass departure of hundreds of construction workers and northernresidents that had begun during the weekend.
“We’re gradually able to extinguish the fires. We’re waiting for therain to begin having an impact,” said Robert Lemay, an information officerfor the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu, the provincialforest-fire protection agency.
About 700 Quebec forest firefighters remained at the ready, joined by morethan 170 colleagues from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the NorthwestTerritories and the state of Maine.
The fire crews will wait for the rain expected today and tomorrow to weakenthe blazes before moving in, Mr. Lemay said.
“As soon as the weather allows it, we will attack the fires in a massiveway.”
In large swaths of Northern Quebec, the air remained saturated with smokefrom flames that shot up higher than the tips of the tallest pine trees, Mr.Lemay said.
There remained 57 active forest fires yesterday.
Most were clusters of blazes that began last Monday, after a thunderstormsystem that swept through the province.
So far this year, fires have destroyed nearly 170,000 hectares of forest, anarea more than three times the size of the city of Montreal.
In the northern town of Chibougamau, about 200 residents who Friday had torelocate to a shelter in a local high school, were able to return to theirhomes.
In the James Bay area, Hydro-Québec suspended the evacuation it had begunSaturday when smoke from a fire 10 kilometres away began bothering workers atits massive Eastmain-1 hydroelectric project.
“The situation improved a lot. . . . We ended our evacuation operationssince the wind had shifted. So everything is on standby,” spokesmanMarc-Brian Chamberland said yesterday.
The provincial utility had already airlifted 650 of the 1,800 workers basedat the giant work camp.
“For sure it slowed down the site, but now we’re optimistic. Rain isexpected in the next days,” Mr. Chamberland said.