Forest fires in northern Quebec affecting eastern Canada

Forest fires have burned more than 300,000 ha of forest and continue to affect Quebec as well as Newfoundland and Labrador. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner

TORONTO – Forest fires in Quebec that have been allowed to burn over the past month are affecting both Quebec and eastern parts of Canada.

Environment Canada has issued Special Weather Statements for parts of Quebec including Manicouagan River, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Iles, Saugenay and northern Quebec. Smoke has increased concentrations of fine particulate matter in the air. It is expected that the concentrations will remain high throughout Saturday.

But the fires are also affecting Newfoundland and Labrador, including Churchill Falls, Eagle River and L’Anse-au-Clair. Environment Canada expects the effects to be worse over western and central Labrador where visibility will be reduced.

Watch: Man comes dangerously close to fire as it tears across Quebec road

Air quality should improve later Saturday when the winds shift to a more northerly flow.

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In Newfoundland, visibility won’t be affected as most of the smoke remains in the upper atmosphere.

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On days with high concentrations of particulate matter, people may find it difficult to breathe. It may also cause eye irritation. Those with respiratory problems may find that their condition worsens. It is advised that people avoid any strenuous activity during these days.

About 300 people, mainly the elderly, have been removed from the Cree community in Matagami, Quebec, 1,200 kilometres north of Montreal. They have been moved to Val d’Or, but Matagami Mayor Rene Dube says many residents have stayed behind to try to protect the town.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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