Forest fires raged in parts of James Bay in the middle of August.

For a few days, people in Waswanipi could smell the smoke in the morning air and see a hazy cloud on the horizon. A fire was blazing about 50 kilometres south of Miquelon.

Another fire came close to Chibougamau, forcing officials to meet to consider an evacuation. To the south, evacuation orders were given to the residents of Parent, a small lumber town on the rail line halfway between Montreal and Chibougamau. The heat was so intense waterbombers couldn’t fly low enough to douse the fire, which was stoked by high winds. The fire completely obscured all daylight.

“This summer was very dry,” said Matthew Ottereyes, public safety officer in Waswanipi. “There was almost no rain… People are lucky.”