ontario news watch

Rain could help Quebec firefighting effort as more than 7,200 people still evacuated

MONTREAL — Quebec’s public security minister says a rainy forecast is raising hopes that the province’s more than 7,200 fire evacuees will be able to return home in the coming days.

François Bonnardel told reporters this morning that rain showers and cooler temperatures should be moving into northwestern Quebec, where powerful forest fires have threatened the towns of Lebel-sur-Quévillon and Normétal.

Bonnardel said he hopes to have good news in the next 24 to 48 hours for displaced residents of those towns who are eager to return home.

He says there were slightly more than 7,200 evacuees remaining in the province this morning — down from over 13,500 late last week — and the number changes from hour to hour.

Residents of Chibougamau, 500 kilometres northwest of Quebec City, are continuing to head home after an evacuation order was lifted Monday, and people from a handful of smaller communities will be able to go home today.

Bonnardel says the fire effort is being bolstered by the arrival this week of two contingents of American firefighters, with more reinforcements from Spain and Portugal expected to arrive Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2023

The Canadian Press

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