Fire of bog Rivière-Ouelle, qc: the struggle of a population tightly woven

Incendie de tourbière de Rivière-Ouelle: le combat d’une population tissée serrée

Incendie de tourbière de Rivière-Ouelle: le combat d’une population tissée serrée

At the height of the disaster, an army composed of 45 to 50 farmers deployed with their tractor and tank.


11 July 2020 22h29


Fire of bog Rivière-Ouelle, qc: the struggle of a population tightly woven

Incendie de tourbière de Rivière-Ouelle: le combat d’une population tissée serrée

Incendie de tourbière de Rivière-Ouelle: le combat d’une population tissée serrée

Johanne Fournier

Special Collaboration

If the fire, which started June 19, the peat Bogs Lambert in Rivière-Ouelle is almost now extinct, this is not only thanks to the firefighters of the Society for the protection of forests against fire (SOPFEU) and the city’s emergency crews from as far as Lévis and Rimouski. It is also thanks to the solidarity of farmers, business people and volunteers who did not hesitate to lend a hand to fight this monster that has ravaged 361,1 hectares of forest in the Kamouraska.

“As awareness, it is really extraordinary,” exclaimed the prefect of Kamouraska. When it is said that it is tightly woven, it is there that we see, with all this world around this drama that has made their support […].” According to Yvon Soucy, the offers came from everywhere, whether it be for food, supplies, volunteering. Volunteerism and mutual aid, it was “beautiful to see”!

According to Cathy Elliott Morneau, the SOPFEU, there remain currently only six to eight firefighters on the scene, especially to make the patrol. “We have a tracking team to ensure that, to the eye, and by thermovision, that the flames do not take over. The problem is that the peat, it burns deep.”

An army of farmers

At the height of the disaster, an army composed of 45 to 50 farmers from as far away as Montmagny and Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska is spontaneously deployed with their tractor and tank used for land application of manure. Even if they were in their period of the most intense of the year and despite the drought, which adversely affects the performance of their crops, they left in convoy to go to supply the fire water, not counting travel between rivière Ouelle and the basins distributed around woodlands and peat bog.

“It was an outpouring of solidarity on the part of many producers, with social networks and by text message, have responded to the call, evidenced by the president of the local union of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) of Kamouraska, Nathalie Lemieux. […] Having regard to the extent, people thought that it was necessary to help protect the fields and the businesses around. […] They have put their shoulders to the wheel to bring as much water as possible because it was a great scope. We couldn’t go there with trucks. The tractors and tanks were welcome, because they needed lots and lots of water. In the tank, it comes in good volumes!”

Incendie de tourbière de Rivière-Ouelle: le combat d’une population tissée serrée

With their tank, the farmers filled the water basins for fire-fighters.

Provided by Jonathan Plant

Dangers and damage caused by the fire

In spite of the danger and of the opaque smoke, these agricultural producers have gone to the front. “When we talk about fire, there are always risks,” says dr. Lemieux. I think the first thing that the producers have wanted to do is to decrease the magnitude of the fire and to protect all that there was around. There were farm buildings which were still not so far away, and agricultural fields also. I think they are gone without even evaluating the risk that there could be.” According to the president of the local union of the UPA, which in itself is a farmer, however, they were guided by the firefighters who ran towards safe places to empty their tank.

Some agri-business owners have feared for their buildings or for their animals. “It was a lot, a lot of smoke, tells the story of Nathalie Lemieux. Depending on the magnitude of the winds, some entrepreneurs have been afraid. It is sure that there was smoke inside buildings. There have been periods of stress, without knowing what impact it could have on their livestock. […] Of time, with the smoke, we do not see any short-term impacts, but it may be in the medium or long term. There are also people who have had damage to their fields and to their woodlots.” Therefore, some woodlands belonging to farmers have been ravaged by the flames.

Fields also suffered heavy damage caused by the paths that are created where passed the tanks drawn by tractors. “It is an effect of compaction,” says the farmer of Saint-André-de-Kamouraska. According to it, it is still too early to know the financial losses. The contractors are now working to assess the extent of the damage with the Financière agricole du Québec, their insurance company, their advisor, agri-environment and forest engineers. Farmers should also observe the signs shown by their animals which could have been smoke inhalation.

His stable being located in the vicinity of the peat bog on fire, only one farmer has had to evacuate part of his flock, that he was transported in another building that belonged to him and that was later the disaster. This decision was made in consultation with their veterinarian. “The vets have been important to know if the animals were okay or if we had to get out, said Ms. Lemieux. They were visits to be certain.”

A network of self-help is also spontaneously developed on Facebook to greet the animals that would have needed to be relocated urgently. “A lot of people from all over the region of Bas-Saint-Laurent, and even the Chaudière-Appalaches offered 15 or 20 places, says the farmer. […] There were many places where one could go and take the animals. […] A fire of this magnitude-there, it would touch a number of companies that were at risk. It was beautiful to see all the messages that could be launched on the Internet!”

The president of the local union of the UPA does not lack for pride in front of such an outpouring of compassion expressed by the agricultural community “to hold, to organise, to help each other […]”. “They have worked hard and it came naturally, all this solidarity of the agricultural environment. […] They do not lack work, but they are all the time available. Even if they are busy, they are all the time ready to go before going to help.”

The recognition of these valiant farmers was just as palpable on the side of the elect. “I want to convey my thanks, said the prefect Soucy. There has been really a lot of solidarity. These folks already have their job, they already have your hands full and this are the first to be there! Yet, these are people who do not have easy! There are those who have worked for 24 hours.”

Restaurateurs generous

If the generosity of the farmers was impressive, “the solidarity beyond” restaurants was just as much, in the opinion of Yvon Soucy. Restaurants in Montmagny and La Pocatière has graciously served hundreds of meals. A cheese factory, a snack, and Moisson Kamouraska are also come in to help feed the firefighters, the farmers and the volunteers. According to the elected, the list was long, and the offers were spontaneous, so that no one had requested.

“We had a mutual absolutely fantastic everywhere, confirms the mayor of Rivière-Ouelle, Louis-Georges Simard. It is absolutely stunning! We have set up a room for the co-ordination centre, where we served hundreds of meals per day. There was even a couple who had left Quebec to come to work in the kitchen of his own initiative. It was pretty awesome! We found a great deal of sensitivity. Restaurants, that suffered the crisis, provided free of charge 150 meals. This assistance, we will not be able to return the favor.” However, the mayor ensures that if, one day, they need his help, “we are going to be there, that’s for sure”! “With a disaster like this, it is clear that if we had not had all of these resources, we would have escaped”, believes the mayor Simard.

Le Soleil

Share Button

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *