April 24th, 2024

Quebec police investigating overnight fire at shrimp processing plant in Matane

By The Canadian Press on March 30, 2024.

A Surete du Quebec emblem is seen on an officer’s uniform in Montreal on August 22, 2023. An overnight fire at a shrimp processing plant in eastern Quebec forced the evacuation of nearby residents for several hours early this morning before firefighters extinguished the flames.
Quebec provincial police say they were called to the scene at around 6:30 p.m. to help manage the emergency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MATANE, Que. – Quebec provincial police have taken over an investigation into an overnight fire at a shrimp processing plant in the town of Matane, roughly 350 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

The fire at the Fruits de mer de l’Est du Québec factory forced some local residents out of their homes for several hours early this morning before firefighters extinguished the flames.

Police spokesperson Stéphane Tremblay says firefighters were initially leading an investigation into the cause of the blaze but received information that led them to transfer the case to investigators with the provincial police force’s major crimes unit .

Tremblay says an analysis of the scene will continue through the weekend.

The local member of Quebec’s national assembly, Pascal Bérubé, posted video from the scene on social media showing a large cloud of smoke emanating from the plant just before 7 p.m. on Friday.

The municipality asked residents in the surrounding area to evacuate their homes at midnight but lifted the order at around 5:30 a.m. after determining there was no threat to local air quality.

Officials have not shared the extent of damage to the factory, but Bérubé says the fire nevertheless represents a further blow to the small community after the plant’s owner announced its closure last week.

He says Matane residents had hoped the factory would find a buyer.

“To learn, one after the other, of the plant’s closure and then its fire, is a lot for the community,” he said in a phone interview.

Matane Mayor Eddy Métivier has described the plant’s closure as a “catastrophe” for the local fishing industry and a shock to a town that prides itself on its ties to the shrimp harvest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2024.

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