UK Foreign Office issues Canada travel warning as wildfires burn in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta
Intense wildfires are blanketing the north-eastern US and parts of Eastern Canada in a haze
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Northern Quebec’s largest town is being evacuated as firefighters work to beat back threats of blazes in remote communities in the northern and north-western parts of the Canadian province.
More than 150 forest fires were burning in Quebec on Tuesday (7 June), including more than 110 deemed out of control, according to the forest fire prevention agency.
The wildfires are blanketing the north-eastern US and parts of Eastern Canada in a haze, including New York City and the US region of New England, turning the air acrid, the sky yellowish-grey and prompting warnings for vulnerable populations to stay inside. US officials as far south as Maryland, Baltimore, Virginia and Pennsylvania reported being affected by the Canadian wildfires.
An evacuation order for Chibougamau, a town in Quebec of about 7,500 in the remote region of the province, was issued late on Tuesday and is currently under way.
Premier Francois Legault told reporters in Sept-Iles, Quebec: “We’re following all of this from hour to hour, obviously. If we look at the situation in Quebec as a whole, there are several places where it is still worrying.”
Mr Legault said the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region in north-western Quebec is an area of particular concern, with the communities of Normetal and Lebel-sur-Quevillon under threat.
Quebec natural resources minister Maite Blanchette Vezina said evacuees across the province number just over 8,300, down from 10,000 to start the week, but the Abitibi region remains a concern. He said: “We are not expecting rain in the short term, which is what makes it more difficult to fight fires.”
Meanwhile, the mayor of Lebel-sur-Quevillon, where about 2,100 people were forced from their homes at the weekend, said the fire is about six miles outside of town, but its advance has been slower than expected.
Other northern communities at risk include Chibougamau the Cree village of Chisasibi on the eastern shore of James Bay, and firefighting resources have been dispatched to Hydro-Quebec’s Micoua substation near Baie-Comeau.
Out of control wildfires have also been reported in the provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia, with local authorities declaring a state of emergency in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Alberta.
The province of Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast has been hardest hit by wildfires in recent days, with a blaze last week forcing 16,000 people out of their homes and destroying some 200 structures, including 151 houses.
Long-awaited rains over the weekend helped to bring fires under control, including the Tantallon fire northwest of Halifax, but some areas are still battling blazes.
Is it safe to travel to Canada?
It is safe for holidaymakers to travel to most parts of Canada, but the UK Foreign Office is warning people to check for wildfire updates and follow guidance from local authorities.
In a warning it said: “There are currently several out of control wildfires in Canada, including in the provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia. Local authorities have declared a state of emergency in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and the province of Alberta. Evacuation orders have been issued in certain areas.
“If you are in Alberta you should:
“If you are in Nova Scotia, particularly near Halifax, you should:
In some provinces, such as Nova Scotia, open fires are currently not permitted in parks and campsites, while open fires are not allowed in or near forested areas in Quebec. If you are travelling in areas affected by wildfires you should stay up to date on local road, park and forest closures, and keep doors and windows closed at your accommodation.