On June 7, several firefighters were heading to Normétal to help fight a forest fire.
In Saint-Lambert and Normétal, firefighters continue to fight the major forest fire that has been burning for several days.
In press briefing on Route 111 North, at the police roadblock that controls access to Normétal and Saint-Lambert, the local authorities took stock of the situation on Saturday.
The fire out of control has already burned more than 8,300 hectares of forest, but it has still not caused material damage to residences or municipal infrastructure.
Elected municipal officials first wanted to reassure their citizens. More than 1,000 have been evacuated for several days, a decision that was not taken lightly, they insisted.
“ For the moment, everything is going very well, we take care of your homes. There are big teams working to keep the fire as far away as possible”
— Ghislain Desbiens, Mayor of Normétal
Ghislain Desbiens, mayor of Normétal.
His colleague from Saint-Lambert, Diane Provost, indicated its citizens that volunteer teams carry out lookouts to ensure that no one enters the territory and to monitor homes.
Don't let go of everyone, the rest of us won't let you go. We do 12, 16, 18 hours, we constantly take turns, we are there all the time. Me, I'm evacuated, I don't even sleep at home, I'm in about the same situation as all the citizens of Saint-Lambert, she said.
Taking advantage of more favorable weather for two days, with higher relative humidity, lower temperatures and less wind, the team of 74 firefighters on the ground held back the fire at the gates of Normétal and Saint-Lambert. They receive support from four helicopters.
The fire is attacked on three fronts, trenches are dug with the help of machinery and the main objective remains to protect the communities, assured Bruno Pelletier, who leads New Brunswick's major fire management team.
What we do is we build a stop line, either by heavy machinery or by garden hose. The perimeter hasn't grown, so it's still 500 meters from Normétal. The fire did not really cross our lines that we built, that SOPFEU built, explained Mr. Pelletier.
A stop line that can go up to 10 meters wide has been laid out all around Normétal. Crews are now busy doing similar work near Lac Pajegasque between Normétal and Val-Paradis.
Bruno Pelletier addresses the media, along with Jaclin Bégin and Normand Lagrange of the MRC Abitibi-Ouest, Mayor Ghislain Desbiens of Normétal and Mayor Diane Provost of Saint-Lambert.
Martin Racette and his family were evacuated from Val-Paradis on a preventive basis last Sunday. They live in a trailer with his wife's family.
It is tolerated, but we can't wait for it to end. We look at the positive. The children take it for a vacation, they have fun with the cousins, he confided.
Like him, more and more evacuees have can't wait to get home. But they will still have to be patient according to Normand Lagrange, director general of the MRC Abitibi-Ouest.
Martin Racette, evacuated from Val-Paradis with his family for a week now.
In the short term, it is certain that we cannot envisage a return home for Saint-Lambert and Normétal. The fire is still at the gates of Saint-Lambert and Normétal. There, he is calm, but we do not know. The current situation does not allow us, there is nothing that allows us to make a short-term assessment. So we want people to be able to come back as soon as possible, he said.
In his update on the situation of the forest fires in the province, the Public Security Minister François Bonnardel also urged people to be patient. According to him, the next 48 hours will be decisive.
In Lebel-sur-Quévillon, the fires also continue to threaten the city. The two fires currently out of control cover more than 137,000 hectares. The fires are being attacked by wildland firefighters and fighters, while work is also being carried out for a stop line around the city and to widen the protective contour of the Nordik Kraft factory.
The two forest fires in the Lebel-sur-Quévillon sector have merged into one.
< p class="e-p">All the municipalities of Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Nord-du-Québec remind their citizens to respect the bans on going into the forest.
Smog warnings are also in effect through Sunday, due to deteriorating air quality driven by smoke from the fires.