Quebec wildfires: Town of Chibougamau declares state of emergency, orders immediate evacuation
The entire town of Chibougamau, in central Quebec, was told to evacuate Tuesday evening as wildfires prompted officials to declare a state of emergency.
An alert from the Ministry of Public Safety told residents to evacuate "immediately" and head to the Roberval recreation centre about 250 kilometres southeast of the town if they have no place else to go. A shuttle bus will be waiting for residents at the Chibougamau Arena to take them out of town.
"The fire is advancing much faster than we thought. We're asking everyone to evacuate the municipality," said Chibougamau Mayor Manon Cyr in a video posted on Facebook.
The town urged for calm as the threat of nearby wildfires threatened people's homes.
"We have time and we ask you to evacuate calmly and be careful on the road," read a message on the town's official Facebook page.
Officials also asked residents to print out a form filled with information about the number of people who have been evacuated and leave it on their door. Officers with the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) are also set to patrol the affected areas, as well as Route 167.
"You do not have to wait for the SQ if you are ready to evacuate," said the Facebook post. "Leave the document on your door and leave your home."
In an interview with Noovo Info, Cyr said she and her director general were planning to stay in Chibougamau until the end to manage the evacuation, like "captains of a ship."
The evacuation comes as more than 150 forest fires were burning in Quebec on Tuesday, with 110 deemed out of control, according to Quebec's forest fire prevention agency.
In a tweet, Public Safety Minister François Bonnardel said the Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou was also being evacuated Tuesday.
Bonnardel is set to hold a news conference Wednesday with Premier François Legault to provide an update on Quebec's wildfire situation.
Legault said the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region in northwestern Quebec is an area of particular concern, with the communities of Normetal and Lebel-sur-Quevillon under threat.
With files from The Canadian Press