MONTREAL — Thick, smoky air hung over many parts of Quebec on Sunday as more than 110 wildfires raged through northern parts of the province, putting more communities on high alert for new evacuation orders.
Environment Canada issued haze warnings for wide areas of the province’s north, south and west, including Montreal, Quebec, Laval, Longueuil and Trois-Rivières.
In Montreal and Ottawa, the Air Quality Health Index was listed at 10 or higher, described as a “very high risk”.
Environment Canada said poor air quality caused by the wildfires is likely to continue into Monday morning, with people with lung or heart disease, the elderly, children, pregnant women and those working outdoors most at risk.
It reads, “If you or someone in your care experiences shortness of breath, wheezing (including an asthma attack), severe cough, dizziness, or chest pain, stop any outdoor activities and consult your health care provider.” Contact provider.” “If you experience any symptoms or feel unwell, stay indoors.”
In Montreal, the smell of smoke lingered under a yellow-brown sky officials canceled activities and urged people to stay indoors.
A triathlon in Montreal and an Ironman race in Mont-Tremblant were both canceled, along with local soccer and baseball matches.
Meanwhile, 7,500 residents of the northern Quebec municipality of Chibougamau are at risk after warnings that they may need to evacuate their homes for a second time this month as two raging wildfires take hold.
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Authorities issued a Facebook post saying they were asking residents to be vigilant and remain calm in case they had to leave.
Thousands of people in northern Quebec have been asked to leave their homes since Thursday due to heavy smoke from the fires.
These include Labelle-sur-Quillon, the regions of Sénetère and Val-d’Or in the northwest, as well as many smaller villages with 2,000 or more inhabitants.
Labelle-sur-Quillon councilor Denis Lemoyne said in an update that the smoke and temperature conditions were “quite intense” but officials were hopeful that calm winds should “give us a chance.” The community was forced last week to ask residents to leave for a second time, only to be allowed back home days later.
The Cree Nation of Mistisini said on its Facebook page on Saturday that firefighting teams and the armed forces were being forced to relocate because the fire threatened the access road.
They said the community could also be at risk of “heavy smoke and possible fires” if adverse winds create a worst-case scenario, and said they were providing buses to help evacuate survivors to the city.
Several other communities have relocated vulnerable residents due to smoke exposure.
Stephen Caron, a spokesman for the province’s wildfire prevention agency, said heavy smoke was limiting the water bombers’ ability to take off because of reduced visibility.
He expressed hope that the forecast of rain in many areas in the coming days could help firefighters and allow aircraft to operate at full capacity again.
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