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'Historic' wildfires in Quebec, says SOPFEU, after 4.5 million hectares of forest burned in 2023

Quebec City -

Quebec experienced a "historic" forest fire season in 2023, declared Éric Rousseau, general manager of protection agency the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), on Tuesday.

At a press conference in Quebec City, he summed up a "record-breaking" season, during which 4.5 million hectares of forest burned, including 1.1 million in inhabited areas.

According to Rousseau, it was the "all-time record for Quebec." To put it plainly, he said the area that burned in 2023 is higher than the sum of the last 20 years.

He was pleased that no human lives were lost.

On Tuesday, SOPFEU's general manager was accompanied by the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Maïté Blanchette Vézina, who announced an additional $16 million in aid.

According to the protection agency, the money will be used to step up prevention efforts and provide communities with better support to make them more resilient to forest fires.

The organization also announced that some 20 of its employees have been particularly "affected" by the "exceptional" season they have experienced and have had to take time off work.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 14, 2023. Top Stories

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