Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Quebec fires prompt fears, evacuations

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REMOTE communities are awaiting help to deal with major forest fires that have ripped through northern Quebec.

Left to burn on their own over the past month, the fires have charred about 300,000 hectares of forest, causing an evacuation from one community and hampering shipments of food to northern grocery stores.

Matagami Mayor Ren© Dub©, who chairs a regional group of elected officials, said he's concerned about the town of Eastmain and a gold-mine project that have been disrupted by evacuations.

About 300 people, mainly the elderly, have been removed from the Cree community 1,200 kilometres north of Montreal. They have been moved to Val d'Or, but Dub© said many residents have stayed behind to try to protect the town.

The fires have burned to within four kilometres of the aboriginal community.

SOPFEU, the provincial forest-fire protection service, has no jurisdiction above the 51st parallel. It's waiting on a call from the government to intervene.

The main highway to James Bay has been closed. The closure means food and other supplies can't be shipped into the area.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois told reporters in Montreal that every effort possible was underway to deal with the situation.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 A20

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