Forest fires: “We are in front of something new”, says François Legault

Forest fires: “We are in front of something new”, says François Legault

Forest fires: “We are facing something new,” says François Legault

Prime Minister François Legault affirms that it will be necessary to fight “all summer” against forest fires.

Quebec, and by extension the whole country, is facing “something new” when it comes to wildfires, Premier François Legault acknowledged Monday. The head of government also said that the fight against the flames would continue “all summer”.

In the context of a press conference held after a meeting with public safety officials, Mr. Legault, looking concerned at times, painted a portrait of the situation in the province, where more than 160 forest fires are raging in the territory.

According to the Prime Minister, there is thus a trend linking the climate crisis and the multiplication of the number and extent of fires. Mr. Legault, however, did not give details on how Quebec could better prepare for this increase in the number of disasters on its territory, other than to say that the government could buy more water bombers.

Moreover, good news fell while Mr. Legault was answering questions from journalists: the Premier of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston, announced the loan, to Quebec, of these specialized devices in the firefighting, since the current atmospheric conditions in this Atlantic province force the authorities to ground the planes.

On the ground, however, resources are lacking, acknowledged the Prime Minister, even though the Society for the Protection of Forests Against Fire (SOPFEU) has deployed 480 people to fight the flames.

To strengthen the firefighters, a hundred firefighters are expected from France, recalled Mr. Legault, before adding that 100 American firefighters must also soon cross the border.< /p>

We don't have the manpower to limit forest loss, the Prime Minister admitted.

“We need all the help we can get. »

— François Legault, Premier of Quebec

Interview with François Bonnardel, Quebec Minister of Public Security.

At his side, the Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, acknowledged that we have a lot of fire for […] 2023, we are facing the unknown as far as weather conditions are concerned.< /p>

Mr. Bonnardel hopes that the rain will be there soon, but also indicated, in the same breath, that in the north-west of the province, around Val-d'Or, this rain would be expected for several more days.

This is where the situation is particularly worrying, noted Mr. Legault.

For her part, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests, Maïté Blanchette-Vézina, also present at the press conference, indicated that the priority was to save citizens and protect infrastructures and buildings, rather than trying to spare the trees.

Some 200,000 hectares of forested land have been affected by the fires so far, has it she mentioned.

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But it won't be possible to save all buildings in Quebec, Legault said. In particular, it will be necessary to “let burn” the hamlet of Clova, in Mauricie, northwest of La Tuque, where an evacuation notice was issued Friday evening, he said, not without causing the ;outrage from residents of the area.

The village of Clova is not completely razed at the moment, but we are unfortunately heading towards that, said his cabinet afterwards.

Right now, the most important thing is that everyone is safe, he said.