North

Overnight fire rips through northern Quebec's Camp Nemiscau

A major fire has destroyed the cafeteria and a small convenience store at Quebec's Camp Nemiscau overnight, but no one was hurt.

Nobody was hurt in the blaze, but fire destroyed cafeteria and small convenience store

The fire destroyed several buildings at the camp, including its cafeteria. (Tommy Neeposh/Facebook)

A major fire destroyed the cafeteria and a small convenience store at Quebec's Camp Nemiscau overnight.

The camp houses workers for the Nemaska Lithium mine as well as the Société de développement de la Baie-James, which takes care of roads in northern Quebec. It's located about 18 kilometres from the Cree community of Nemaska.

The fire appears to have started shortly after midnight, according to witness accounts.

Tommy Neeposh, a former firefighter who now works for Hydro-Québec, was one of the first to arrive on the scene. 

The fire destroyed the cafeteria and a small convenience store. (Submitted by Hubert Kitty)

"When we first arrived at the fire, it wasn't that big yet, but it accelerated very fast," he said.

"It didn't take long for the firefighters to come all the way from Nemaska. But it was already a major fire by the time they arrived."

Hubert Kitty, a snowplow operator, said he arrived on the scene at about 1:30 a.m. Loaders and other heavy machines pushed snow onto the flames while workers evacuated the trailers and stood outside in the cold. 

"It burnt down the whole cafeteria," said Kitty. "Nothing was left."

He was out plowing snow at 1:30 a.m. when he came across raging flames at Camp Nemiscau. 4:04

It's not yet known what caused the fire, but Kitty said it may have been a faulty heater.

"They think it was from the heater that was close to the door, but there was no one inside and no one got injured."

The fire had been extinguished as of Thursday morning.

"All the workers who were sleeping nearby the cafeteria have been rapidly evacuated," said Fanny-Ève Tapp, spokesperson for Nemaska Lithium, in a release.

"We are actively working to find a solution to offer our workers a cafeteria service and to resume our activities as quickly as possible." 

The cafeteria was a popular stopping place for people travelling on the Route du Nord, as well as residents of the nearby Hydro-Québec work camps and Cree communities.

Construction work at the Nemaska Lithium mine site has been put on hold, and 167 workers are being sent home Thursday. 

With files from Cheryl Wapachee, Marjorie Kitty, Christopher Herodier

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