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LA TUQUE, Que. — Nine forest fires continue to rage out of control in the Haute-Mauricie region of Quebec and over 50 continue to blaze across the province.
A spokeswoman for the province’s forest-firefighting organization says conditions have improved since Friday when 16 fires were burning out of control. “We take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time,” said Melanie Morin on Saturday.
“Presently we’re working on the fires that are out of control.”
Crews are using water bombers and creating fire breaks as a preventive measure, but are still concerned about a forecast for stronger winds, said Morin.
Winds are expected to pick up to between 30-to-40 km/h on Saturday afternoon.
“We will be evaluating the fires and their progression and making sure the communities surrounded by these fires are still safe,” she said.
About 1,000 firefighters and specialists are currently on the ground battling the blazes, including some 200 helping out from the U.S., Manitoba, New Brunswick and British Columbia.
Some 2,400 people were evacuated from four communities in the region earlier this week.
The Red Cross is helping Quebec handle the relocation operation in the Mauricie, the Lanaudieres and the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions and have about 100 workers and volunteers assisting the evacuees.
Some 1330 people were evacuated from the First Nations community of Wemotaci and many are bunking at a local school. A further 1,000 people from the communities of Manawan and from Obedjiwan were also forced to flee the smoke.
The Haute-Mauricie region in central Quebec is the worst hit in the province with 25 fires now blazing. But Abitibi-Temiscamingue, Nord-du-Quebec and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean are also threatened by the flames.
The risk of new fires remains extreme across Quebec and open-air fires are banned in most regions of the province. 13:38ET 29-05-10