Wildfire near Kuujjuaq might blow smoke into community, but risk of spread is 'minimal'

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Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, pictured in February. A small fire is burning about 30 kilometres south of the community but authorities say it poses a minimal risk for residents. (Olivier Plante/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, pictured in February. A small fire is burning about 30 kilometres south of the community but authorities say it poses a minimal risk for residents. (Olivier Plante/Radio-Canada - image credit)

There's a smoke alert for people in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, due to forest fire burning about 30 kilometres south of the community.

The fire is on the other side of Koksoak River and east of Flase River, reads a news release from Nunavik health officials on Thursday.

It says the risk of the fire spreading has been deemed minimal by Quebec's forest fire prevention agency (SOPFEU), which is monitoring the situation alongside local authorities.

Rain is forecasted for Thursday afternoon and Friday in the area, according to Environment Canada.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services says its keeping an eye on the health risk for people due to the fire.

Due to winds, residents may be able to smell the smoke.

Right now, however, the release said there is "little risk linked to the presence of the smoke cloud."

The quantity of fine particles in the air is not considered hazardous to Kuujjuamiut, though some people could be more vulnerable to the effects of smoke, the release said. That includes young children, those who are pregnant, elderly people and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, or heart disease.

People doing intense work or sports activities outdoors could also be more affected.

Possible effects of exposure to smoke include eye irritation and tearing, nasal discharge and irritated sinuses, sore throat and mild cough and headaches. There are also less common but more serious symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing (including asthma attacks), severe cough, dizziness, chest pain or heart palpitations.

Anyone who develops one of these more severe symptoms is advised to consult their health centre.

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