A forest fire near Chapais in northern Quebec has forced the evacuation of about 500 homes, almost half the community.
Evacuees in the southern sector of the town were taken to the arena in Chibougamau, Que., about 40 kilometres away, according to Chapais Mayor Isabelle Lessard.
The Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), the province’s fire prevention agency, declared the fire “out of control” on Wednesday evening.
SOPFEU spokesperson Melanie Morin told CBC the fire is one of 13 active forest fires are burning in Quebec, with two of them ‘out of control’.
Morin said the area of the fire is estimated at 2,400 hectares.
“At its nearest point, the fire is under four kilometres from the town of Chapais,” she said.
“As of this morning at 6 a.m., an incident management team will be in the area to take over command of that fire and assign resources as needed.”
According to SOPFEU, the flames are intense and efforts by water bomber crews to get the fire under control have so far been unsuccessful.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and SOPFEU have set up a community post in front of the town hall.
Chapais has approximately 1,500 residents.
Morin said the other out of control fire is near Sept-Îles in the North Shore region of Quebec.
Two fires have been brought under control in the region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and a third is being contained.
SOPFEU is reminding Quebecers a ban on setting open air fires is in effect across the province.
The agency has tallied 212 fires so far this season, an increase from the average of 190 for this time of year.
Morin said 40 of those forest fires were sparked by people in the past two days alone.