Forest fire in Chapais: “We try to stay as calm as possible”

Forest fire in Chapais: “We try to stay as calm as possible”

Forest fire in Chapais: “We are trying to stay as calm as possible”

A major forest fire threatens the municipality of Chapais.

“We are in the process of evacuating half of the city, on the south side”, says the mayor of Chapais, Isabelle Lessard, the day after the outbreak of a huge forest fire near the municipality of Nord-du-Québec . The evacuation order was given on Wednesday as a preventive measure.

Forest firefighters are still trying to control the fire which started on Wednesday afternoon. The area of ​​the fire that was heading towards the municipality was estimated at 2,400 hectares.

“It's under control in Chapais but it's still a concern , when we see these fires everywhere on the territory. The Sûreté du Québec was on the ground yesterday. So are the SOPFEU staff. We asked to evacuate. This morning it's getting a little more normal again, but we're on the lookout. We even hope for a little rain,” said Public Security Minister François Bonnardel.

The fire approached Chapais, but did not reach the city.

A post of control is present at the entrance to the town of Chapais.

The James Bay School Service Center has decided to close elementary and secondary schools for the day. Ungava MNA Denis Lamothe is also going to Chapais to support the population.

On Wednesday, some 500 families had been ordered to evacuate their homes in Chapais, in northern Quebec. They were moved to the neighboring city, Chibougamau.

There was a lot of smoke in the city, underlines the mayor of Chapais, Isabelle Lessard.

The Mayor of Chapais, Isabelle Lessard

Despite the concern of the population, Isabelle Lessard emphasizes the collaboration and efficient work of the emergency teams. We try to stay as calm as possible, she adds.

The more time passed, the heavier the air. The [smoke] was getting thicker and thicker. In the evening, it smelled in the houses despite the closed windows. It was difficult to breathe, that was what was worrying, told Caroline Belleau on the show It's never the same. The Chapais resident has left to find her parents, who live in Chibougamau.

“I left with my young child of 5 years old. Change of clothes, clothes for the night, a little bit of food for the next morning so that we can have lunch, medication if we have to take it and a little pocket money. We put that in the car and we go. »

— Caroline Belleau

This morning, we can see that the winds have changed direction a little bit. We see that the smoke has subsided a lot at the level of the city, remarks Mayor Lessard.

She adds that it is still too early to allow the evacuees to return to their homes.

Forest fires: Chapais and Chibougamau collaborate for the safety of citizens


Forest fires: Chapais and Chibougamau collaborate for the safety of citizens. 10-minute audio content, ICI Première show. Listen to the audio.

Josée Poitras, spokesperson for the Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire (SOPFEU), explains how the teams will work on Thursday morning.

We are going to make a new outline, an overview of the fire to have a better overview and to prepare the planning for the next few days. There is the protection of certain chalets, the creation of a mechanized stop line, it also helps to avoid a little more violent behavior of the fire, she says.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown, but it could be a human cause since there was no lightning in the area, according to Josée Poitras.

A team of specialists in fire behavior from SOPFEU and forest firefighters arrived as reinforcements this morning. The teams are also ready to intervene with air tankers.

SOPFEU must wait for the right moment to deploy the tankers. (File photo)

When the fire is out of control, it can even be dangerous for air tankers because it builds a column of heat. Even an air tanker drop that contains 6000 liters of water, with fire intensity, the water would not even succeed in lowering the fire intensity. It would even dry out when passing over the flames, describes Josée Poitras.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests and the Ministry of Public Security ask the population of Quebec to avoid traveling in the forest to reduce the risk of fire.

“Citizens are being asked to be diligent, to be careful. There is a climatic situation at the moment which means that there is a significant risk of forest fires. So we ask citizens to avoid going to the forest to avoid the spread and the risks for citizens, ”mentioned Thursday morning, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests, Maïté Blanchette Vézina.


The ban on open fires in or near forests is still in effect in the province.

As of May 28 , the province faces a situation prone to wildfires with high and dry temperatures as well as low rainfall throughout the territory, can be read in the preventive notice of June 1.

SOPFEU spokesperson Josée Poitras also discourages people from approaching forest fires to take photos, even using drones or aircraft, under penalty of a fine.