Major power failures in Quebec because of northern forest fires

Associated Press

MONTREAL - About 10 per cent of Quebecers have lost electricity this afternoon, the second day of blackouts brought on by powerful forest fires in the province's north.

Hydro-Quebec says 500,000 households or businesses were affected at the peak of today's blackout but they say service is being gradually restored.

Earlier in the day, Hydro-Quebec's president had explained the cause of the problem.

Thierry Vandal said smoke from powerful forest fires in northern Quebec had prompted a major transmission line to seize up in the north, causing a cascading effect.

The impact yesterday was felt in Montreal's subway system, which was temporarily shut down. There are reports today that shopping centres around the city have lost power.

Quebec provincial teams are battling a number of blazes, with help from Parks Canada.

More than 280,000 hectares of forested area have been scorched, and hundreds of residents have been evacuated from the northwestern Quebec community of Eastmain.

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