Sept-Îles, Que., lifts evacuation order, thousands set to return home

With the two forest fires that threatened the city gradually moving away, Sept-îles, Que., has lifted its evacuation order, and thousands of residents can now return home.

The evacuation order was put in place last Friday morning, affecting about 5,000 residents. They had until 4 p.m. to leave their homes.

The order was in effect for the Lac Daigle and Maliotenam sectors as well as areas east of downtown including Les Plages and Moisie.

During a news conference on Tuesday, local officials said provincial police officers will be present to make sure the return home goes smoothly.

The city’s mayor also stressed that people need to be ready to evacuate in the coming days or weeks if the situation warrants it.

“The fight is far from over,” said Sept-Îles Mayor Steeve Beaupré. “We will unfortunately have to learn to live with the risk since a fire of this magnitude doesn’t die easily.”

Premier François Legault is in Sept-Îles Tuesday and is expected to speak publicly later this morning.

Across Quebec, the number of fires has overwhelmed the capacity of the province’s forest fire fighting agency, SOPFEU. 

On Tuesday, there were more than 150 fires, with the vast majority of them burning out of control.

Two Indigenous communities — Opitciwan in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region and Manawan in the Lanaudière —  are among the latest to force some residents out due to the risk posed by forest fires.

WATCH | Why are forest fires in Quebec so bad this year?: 

What’s behind Quebec’s ‘unprecedented’ forest fire season?

CBC’s Steve Rukavina explains why so many fires are burning, many out of control, in the province this spring.

More to come.

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