Hydro Quebec workers, vulnerable Cree community members evacuated due to wildfires

Hydro Quebec headquarters in downtown Montreal. Photo: APTN file

Residents of northwestern Quebec have been evacuated because of high-intensity forest fires raging near Cree communities and Hydro-Quebec infrastructure.

The Cree Board of Health says seven planes were deployed to the community of Wemindji on Wednesday and Thursday to evacuate more than 200 medically vulnerable people.

Wemindji, on the east coast of James Bay, declared a state of local emergency on Wednesday and has said that more preventive evacuations are possible.

A Hydro-Quebec spokesman says the public utility evacuated about 100 workers from the La Grande-3 dam in the James Bay region on Wednesday over concerns that roads or airports could get cut off.

Maxence Huard-Lefebvre says the situation has since improved and Hydro-Quebec is evaluating whether it’s safe for its employees to return.

A spokesperson for the province’s forest fire prevention agency says the James Bay region received heavy rain but that smoke has made it difficult to get a full portrait of the situation.

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