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Smog, smoke warnings from forest fires

MONTREAL, May 31 (UPI) -- Smoke blanketed the Montreal region Monday as more than 50 forest fires burned in Quebec province, prompting officials to issue smoke and smog warnings.

A smog warning was issued for provincial cities and towns north of Montreal and asthmatic children and people suffering from respiratory or heart problems were told to avoid intense outdoor physical activities until the warning is lifted, The (Montreal) Gazette reported Monday.

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Environment Canada said people should be careful at least through midday Tuesday.

The forest fires forced at least 2,500 people from their homes, fanned by winds, sun and tinder-dry conditions, fire officials said.

None of the villages near the forest fires was at immediate risk, said Marcel Trudel, a spokesman with the Societe de protection des forets contre le feu.

"We put some out, and new ones start all the time," Trudel said. "That's how it works."

Of the 52 fires, eight were burning out of control as of Sunday, The Gazette reported.

"It's normal that we have fires out of control," Trudel said. "That's nature. If nature helps, it would get better."

Rain was expected for the region Monday night, forecasters said.

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