Bas-Saint-Laurent: the fire of peat out of control
The fire raging since Friday in the Bog Lambert Rivière-Ouelle, qc has picked up in intensity Saturday. Sixty residents were evacuated in an area containing about thirty houses located within a kilometre of the blaze.
“The fire is not controlled,” confirms the mayor of the municipality of Kamouraska, Louis-Georges Simard.
The majority of the people evacuated are staying with relatives and five workers of the bog have been supported by the Red Cross. Seven other adjacent municipalities are on the alert and ready, also, to proceed with evacuations.
The fire was reported at the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) to 15h on Friday. “It is occurring in the hour that followed with fire in forest and three tanker aircraft, says the spokeswoman, Mélanie Morin. It has been on the premises up to the darkness.” A helicopter of the SOPFEU is also on hand to transport equipment and personnel from one edge of the disaster on the other, to monitor the progress of the fire from the air and to do the watering. Very early Saturday, 20 firefighters and forestry of the SOPFEU were back.
120 hectares destroyed
15 hectares of forest razed on Friday, the area is increased to 120 acres Saturday, equivalent to 168 football fields. On the side of the bog, the surface razed by the fire would be at least three times larger. “It is certain that the area burned is larger than this, but the SOPFEU is in charge of the portion in the forest,” said Ms. Morin. The firemen in municipal are in charge of the portion in the bog.” “The fire is taken in large stacks of peat, note the mayor Simard. It is that which must be off.”
At the end of the day Saturday, the SOPFEU believed that the fire portion of the forest was contained. “It means that its progress free is temporarily stopped,” says the spokesperson. It is not excluded that there will be even a little bit of progress. The weather conditions are such that we can see when even a activity inside the perimeter. This is due to wind, heat and drought that it is currently experiencing.”
In his opinion, it is quite normal for flare-ups and smoke were able to return later in the day. “In the morning, there was more moisture, it is cooler, there is less smoke. When the day heats up, when the winds pick up, one has more flames.” This is the reason why a tanker aircraft of the SOPFEU is returned to water on the premises over the lunch hour Saturday.
A coordination centre, which had first been installed at the municipal hall of Rivière-Ouelle, qc, has had to be quickly moved to the Centre Bombardier de La Pocatière, for fear that the smoke had permeated the place located in the heart of the village. “We took no chance”, says Mr. Simard.
At the end of the day Saturday, no residence or any building were threatened with fire. But, much as he wants, of course not, the mayor does not exclude any possibility. “It could be in the future. But currently, to my understanding, there are not really buildings at risk. There is a lot of watering was done to the side of buildings to reduce the spread of the fire. But, it could change!” The chosen one raises that, in the event that the fire spread to farms in the area, and that it would be necessary to evacuate animals, the regional directorate of civil security and the ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec would be prepared to intervene.
Farmers in reinforcement
With their tractors and water tanks, a thirty farmers have not hesitated to provide backup to firefighters from several municipalities in an attempt to contain the destructive element on the side of the bog. “They collect water and will water them in the prevention mode, greet the mayor Simard. Will have to see how we can replace these people because there are those who have been working for more than 24 hours. It is a challenge!”
For Sunday, the SOPFEU intends to double the number of firefighters in the forest. “We will go in force to ensure that the portion of forest, we can achieve our goals,” says the spokesperson. It is expected that this fire lasts for a few days. “A bog, it burns deeply, slowly and long.” For the moment, the cause remains to be determined. “It is so dry, leaves fall, Louis-Georges Simard. This is a shame, this drought in June!”
A large plume of smoke is visible for many kilometres. The smell that emanates from it and the smog that it causes are evident in several municipalities in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Chaudière-Appalaches and Beauce. According to SOPFEU, and it is this that complicates the fight. “A bog, just because of its content, produces lots of smoke, described Ms. Morin. Therefore, it makes sure that when one makes an evaluation from the air, it is difficult to see the affected area, and calculate. It is also what will bother the people around and along the paths.”
Environment Canada has issued a smog warning for the sectors of Kamouraska, Pohénégamook, Rivière-du-Loup and Trois-Pistoles. “High concentrations of fine particles are expected and will result in a poor air quality”, one can read in a press release issued by the ministry. According to the public health directorate of the Bas-Saint-Laurent, smog poses a threat to the health of the citizens of the surrounding municipalities. “The smoke of forest fires is a complex mixture of gases and particles, explains the body by way of a press release. The plume of smoke contains irritants that may aggravate or cause symptoms in people with fragile or vulnerable.” Therefore, it is recommended to stay inside, close windows and air exchanger as well as prevent any other source of pollutant, such as paint.
Smoke up to Quebec
The fire department of the City of Quebec have received several calls in the end of the day Saturday, about the presence of smoke in the sky.
After several audits of different sectors, no fire was in progress in the city, it would be in fact the smoke remaining from the fire of peat bogs of the Rivière-Ouelle, it comes from the south shore of the St. Lawrence river.
“In the current conditions, this smoke has no risk to the inhabitants of Quebec,” notes Alexandre Lajoie, spokesman for the fire service. With the collaboration of Judith Desmeules