A thick layer of smog descended on parts of the province Tuesday as raging wildfires continue to burn in northwestern Quebec.
Environment Canada issued smog warnings and air quality statements for many regions. In Montreal, haze and the smell of smoke was noticeable in the downtown core in the morning.
“High concentrations of fine particulate matter due to forest fires in Quebec will result in poor air quality in many areas today and tonight,” the weather agency said Tuesday.
“Smog especially affects asthmatic children and people with respiratory ailments or heart disease. It is therefore recommended that these individuals avoid intense physical activity outdoors until the smog warning is lifted.”
SOPFEU, the province’s fire prevention agency, reported 152 active forest fires — a slight dip from the previous day. Of those blazes, 113 are out of control.
Premier François Legault has said the province is in a “difficult situation” and the wildfires forced more than 10,000 people to leave their homes.
The Canadian Armed Forces are assisting the province’s firefighters while more than 250 firefighters from Canada, the United States and France are expected to arrive this week. Local firefighters are also receiving accelerated training to help stamp out the blazes.
Legault visited hard-hit Sept-Îles to meet with local officials Tuesday. About 6,000 residents of Sept-Îles and the nearby Innu community of Mani-Utenam had been under an evacuation order since Friday after one of three fires in the region neared the area.
“Unfortunately there is still a big fire around Rivière Moisie and it’ll take weeks before we stop that,” Legault said.
Sept-Îles Mayor Steeve Beaupre told reporters Tuesday the fire was no longer deemed a threat and people will be able to return home. There are still fires in the area and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said local firefighters are being sent to help.
“Sept-Îles, we are on our way! Courage,” Plante said in a tweet.
The premier said that the rain helped in that area, but that the government’s biggest worry is about the wildfires in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. Firefighters are also doing preventive work near Chibougamou and Baie-Comeau, where there are major Hydro-Québec installations, Legault added.
“We’re following this hour by hour,” he said of the situation in Quebec.
Legault also thanked Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador for their assistance as the wildfires continue.
—with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press
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