Northern Quebec fire grows to 280K hectares

A fire raging near the Cree community of Eastmain, Que., now covers more than 280,000 hectares.

Ground crews plan burns to keep fire from Cree community of Eastmain

The fire has burned about 280,000 hectares of forest near Eastmain, Que. (NASA)

A fire raging near the Cree community of Eastmain, Que., now covers more than 280,000 hectares.

The flames are roughly four kilometres away from the community, but favourable winds were moving smoke away from the community Thursday morning.

Melanie Morin, a spokesperson for Société de protection des forêts contre le feu, a group that specializes in forest fire prevention in the province, said ground crews can only do so much to stop the flames.

She said the fire is big and the weather is definitely not helping firefighters.

"What we can do is measures to attenuate around the village, protect certain infrastructures," she said.

"It really is Mother Nature that has to do her part. We need more humidity, we need rain, because at over 200,000 hectares it is not ground crews that will stop this fire. It really will be Mother Nature."

Morin said crews are also having a difficult time because of high winds fanning the flames.

Crews plan to do controlled burns Friday north of Eastmain to remove fuel and reduce the threat to the community.

More than 300 residents of Eastmain were evacuated close to a week ago to the community of Val d'Or.

One of the people who stayed behind was Eva Louttit. She says the firefighters are doing a fantastic job.

"I'm personally not worried because I know the firefighters are really working hard and there are a lot of other people who are helping at this time of tragedy," she said. "I feel that my faith is keeping me intact."

Louttit said she is not yet prepared to be evacuated and is confident that she will be able to stay in her community. Emergency officials do have a plan to evacuate the whole community if the winds shift and the fire moves back toward the community.

The Eastmain access road and the James Bay highway between kilometres 275 and 518 remain closed as of Thursday morning.