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Fires keep Otter Lake department busy

CALEB NICKERSON
OTTER LAKE May 20-21, 2020 
Fire crews in Otter Lake were kept busy last week, with two sizable brush fires that consumed several acres of forest. 
The first fire was called in at 4:41 p.m. on May 20, near 40 chemin Lakeview. The Otter Lake and Thorne departments were the first to respond to the scene with around 19 firefighter. Fire Chief Denis Chaussé said that he called for backup from Quebec’s forest fire response team, SOPFEU, immediately due to the high wind. 
SOPFEU provided additional crews by truck and helicopter, as well as two water bomber planes, which dropped around 20 loads each on the blaze, according to Chausse’s estimation. 
The fire was contained by that evening, and according to SOPFEU spokesperson Mélanie Morin, they had seven firefighters on the scene the next day to put out any hotspots. 
In total, the fire burned about 2.4 hectares, but didn’t destroy any buildings. The cause of the blaze was determined to be a branch falling on electrical wires. 
Local resident and Otter Lake councillor Desiree Tremblay-Giroux watched the action take place from her home, and said that there was one cottage in the vicinity of the forest fire. 
“There’s one main residence in that area,” she said. “The fire was too close for comfort, that’s for sure. You could see the flames.”
With the current dry weather, Tremblay-Giroux said she was grateful for the prompt response from the local fire department. 
Another brush fire caused by electrical wires was called in just before 7 p.m. the following day, near 78 chemin Rivière Picanoc. 
Chaussé said that the Thorne and Otter Lake Departments responded initially, and advised SOPFEU of the situation, however, their additional troops were unavailable at the time. Chausse had to request assistance from the Campbell’s Bay-Litchfield Department, who responded with four firefighters and two tanker trucks. 
He said that this fire came within three feet of a residence, but the local crews had it under control by 10 p.m. that evening. 
Chausse said that the dry weather prompted him to enact a total ban on fires throughout the municipalities of Thorne and Otter Lake. 
He said he and the other local chiefs were working with MRC Fire and Public Safety Coordinator Julien Gagnon to create a burn bylaw that would encompass the entire territory. This way, officials wouldn’t have a patchwork of rules that varied from municipality to municipality. 
“Each municipality has their own bylaw in that regard and it’s getting very tricky to enforce bylaws that are different from one municipality to the next,” Gagnon explained. 
Gagnon added that they would be aiming to have their new bylaw adopted by the 18 municipalities and put in place by November 1. 

Water bombers from Quebec’s forest fire response team SOPFEU were on the scene of a blaze near 40 chemin Lakeview in Otter Lake on Wednesday afternoon. The two planes dropped about 20 loads each according to local fire chief Denis Chausse. SOPFEU also sent additional firefighters to respond to the situation.

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