As a hot south wind blew, vehicles lined the highway leading into Chisasibi. People lined the road to watch a forest fire threatening to approach Chisasibi.
The fire had jumped a fire break that was cut in previous years during another dry summer. Chisasibi residents were on standby Sunday, May 16, as they watched the fire make its way towards the river.
The fire started on the south side of the highway at Km 10, where the old dump was. People going to church reported seeing smoke in the general direction of where the fire had started.
A south wind was blowing which pushed the fire towards the highway and river. By noon it had jumped the highway and fire break.
Officials were on the scene to close off the highway and keep people at a safe distance from the fire.
The local fire truck was pumping water whereever it had access.
There were fears that the fire would approach Chisasibi. At one point bulldozers were called in to clear another fire break. They were soon called off. The fire had burned all day into the night.
Asked whether they were going to pump water from the lakes and ponds, an band public-safety official said they were told it was going to rain at 10 p.m.
I looked at my watch, it said 8:30. I looked up at the sky, It was clear. I looked at the fire, It was big.
Everyone commented on how nice the wood will be for firewood in a couple of years: “We won’t have to go far for firewood.” It was already 10 p.m. and still no sign of rain. By 11 p.m. the first few drops fell, by 11:30 the rain snuffed out the fire and as if on cue, everyone went home.
In a radio interview the following day, a band public-safety officer said the cause of the fire was a cigarette.