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Quebec forest fires at critical level

Quebec, Canada
May 27, 2007
Forest fires have reached a critical level in Quebec, especially in the northwest and north-central regions, while forcing more than 1,000 people to flee an eastern reserve, officials say.
The provincial forest fire prevention agency, the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu, said 26 fires are burning in the province — six of them out of control.
A spokeswoman for the agency, Melanie Morin, said this year has been worse than usual for forest fires in the province.
"To date, we've had 280 forest fires since the beginning of the season. Our five-year average is 189 fires and only 2,600 hectares, so we're quite above that," she said.
The situation was particularly bad in the northwestern Abitibi region and in north-central Quebec near Senneterre, about 420 kilometres northwest of Montreal. The fire there was being contained Sunday afternoon, said Jacques Nadeau, a spokesman for the société.
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