Maximum-security prison that held killers Magnotta, Pickton evacuated due to wildfires

Click to play video: 'Quebec wildfires: Port Cartier residents, city’s maximum-security prison evacuated'
Quebec wildfires: Port Cartier residents, city’s maximum-security prison evacuated
Watch: Approximately 1,000 residents of Port Cartier, Que., have been ordered out of their homes as forest fires rage close by. The city's maximum-security prison has also been reportedly evacuated. The facility has previously held held notorious murderers including Luka Rocco Magnotta and Robert Pickton – Jun 23, 2024

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A maximum-security prison in Quebec that has held notorious Canadian murderers including Luka Magnotta, Robert Pickton and Paul Bernardo has been evacuated due to the intensification of nearby forest fires, Correctional Service Canada has confirmed.

A release issued Sunday says inmates at the Port-Cartier Institution were “successfully moved” to other secure federal correctional facilities after an evacuation order was issued for the City of Port-Cartier, Que., on Friday.

“To carry out the evacuation, we put measures in place, together with our partners, to maintain the safety and security of our staff, the public, and the offenders in our care and custody,” the statement says.

Click to play video: 'Why Paul Bernardo will stay in medium-security prison'
Why Paul Bernardo will stay in medium-security prison

The federal agency says it has notified all victims connected to the inmates held there, as per the victims’ notification preferences.

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The institution is currently closed to all visitors, personnel, contractors and volunteers.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to all of our staff and partners who worked tirelessly to plan and successfully execute this complex operation in an evolving wildfire situation,” said Anne Kelly, commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada.

“The safety of our staff, inmates and the public will continue to remain our top priority,” the release says.

Click to play video: 'Robert Pickton dies after prison attack'
Robert Pickton dies after prison attack

Port-Cartier Institution is a stand-alone maximum-security federal prison with a current inmate count of 225, where notorious serial killer Robert Pickton was held up until his fatal assault involving another inmate last month.

Luka Magnotta, who made international headlines for the brutal killing of an international student, was also held there until the Correctional Service of Canada made a controversial decision in 2022 to move him to a medium-security detention centre and instructed staff not to tell the public. Serial killer and rapist Paul Bernardo, who is serving a life sentence for the horrifying crimes he committed alone and with his then-wife Karla Homolka, was also once an inmate there.

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A general evacuation order was issued on Friday for residents of the north shore city as forest fires continued to rage close by.

Click to play video: 'Canadian wildfire fighters don’t want ‘catastrophe’ to be ‘catalyst’ for change'
Canadian wildfire fighters don’t want ‘catastrophe’ to be ‘catalyst’ for change

Mayor Alain Thibault declared a state of emergency and told residents in the Parc Brunel and Parc Dominique Park areas, as well as those living north of Route 138, to leave immediately.

Provincial Public Security Minister François Bonnardel said the evacuation notice affects about 1,000 residents.

Premier Legault issued a statement Sunday saying evacuees will have access to financial assistance of $1,500 per person.

The municipality of Port-Cartier said those fleeing could find refuge in emergency accommodation at a temporary shelter in Baie-Comeau, about 170 kilometres to the southwest.

As of Saturday morning, Quebec’s forest fire prevention agency website classifies three of the fires in the Sept-Rivières region surrounding Port Cartier as out of control and one as new. All the fires were caused by lightning strikes.

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–with files from The Canadian Press and Amy Judd, Global News

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