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Five forest fires burning in MRC Pontiac, two large fires cause concern

Connor Lalande
Pontiac June 5, 2023
Five forest fires are currently burning in the MRC Pontiac, officials say.
While three of the five fires are considered “smaller”, two are larger and cause for concern, MRC Pontiac Public Security Coordinator Julien Gagnon says.
The larger fires are located near kilometre 114 of Bois-Franc Road (commonly referred to as Jim’s Lake Road) and the eastern most corner of the MRC, just south of the ZEC Pontiac, says Gagnon.
The Bois-Franc Road fire is, as of press time, 805 hectares in area with the eastern MRC fire at 110 hectares. The three smaller fires are each less than 65 hectares in size.
According to Gagnon, no active extinguishing efforts are being undertaken by the SOPFEU on the five fires as crews are overwhelmed with the extent of fires throughout the province.
“Open fires in or near forests are currently prohibited throughout Quebec,” a Ministère des Ressources naturelles et des Forêts (MRNF) statement, translated into English, reads. “Since May 28, the province has been facing a situation conducive to forest fires, with high, dry temperatures and low precipitation across the entire territory.”
As of June 1, the MRNF and the Ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) also issued a precautionary notice requesting forest travel be avoided or restricted over the coming days “due to the extreme flammability index and worrisome fires underway in certain areas of the province.”
“I’m extremely concerned about the forest fires in north western Quebec,” said MRC Warden Jane Toller in a Facebook post on June 4, “Please do not have any fires. Do not go into the bush.”
Environment Canada has issued air quality warnings for most of Quebec due to “high concentrations of fine particulate matter from forest fires.”
According to the agency, smoke from wildfires can be harmful to everyone’s health but certain segments of the population are at a greater risk.
“People with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke,” an Environment Canada statement reads. “Speak with your health care provider about developing a management plan for wildfire smoke events and maintaining a supply of necessary medications at home and always carrying these medications with you during wildfire season.”
“The MRNF, MSP and SOPFEU would like to remind the public that, during this period of extreme fire danger throughout Quebec, the utmost caution is required to avoid a conflagration,” the MRNF naturelles et des Forêts statement reads. “The cooperation of all forest land users is more essential than ever to protect our forests and ensure everyone’s safety.”
Forest fires are affecting communities across Canada. Alberta declared a state of emergency on May 6 due to out of control wildfires in the province. The Canadian military was called in to assist with firefighting efforts in Nova Scotia. Over 150 forest fires are currently burning in Quebec.

Summary:

Last Friday there were 324 fires reported burning across Canada.

Monday the total jumped to 424.

More than 250 fires were burning out of control, stretched across nine provinces and two territories.

The Quebec numbers has 164 wildfires burning across the province, including at least 114 that are out of control.

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