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Quebec maximum security prison evacuated over forest fires

The Port-Cartier Institution was evacuated Friday due to forest fires burning in the area. Photo courtesy of Correction Service Canada/Website
The Port-Cartier Institution was evacuated Friday due to forest fires burning in the area. Photo courtesy of Correction Service Canada/Website

June 24 (UPI) -- Inmates held at a maximum security prison on Quebec's north shore have been evacuated due to intensifying forest fires, officials said.

Correctional Service Canada said Sunday that the evacuation order for the Port-Cartier Institution was issued Friday and its inmates were "successfully moved" to other secure federal correctional facilities.

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"To carry out the evacuation, we put measures in place, together with our partners, to maintain the safety and security of our staff, the public and the offenders in our care and custody," Correctional Service Canada said in a statement.

"Victim notification has occurred, based on the notification preferences that they provided to the Correctional Service of Canada."

The correctional facility is located in the city of Port-Cartier, located about 522 miles northeast of Montreal along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. The prison has a capacity of 237 inmates, and was home to convicted serial killer Robert Pickton until he died earlier this month.

At least seven fires have been ignited north of Port-Cartier and Sept-Iles due to lightening strikes earlier this month, Quebec's forest fire prevention agency SOPFEU said in a statement Thursday.

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On Sunday, SOPFEU said some of the fires remain out of control.

Port-Cartier City Mayor Alain Thibault has declared a state of emergency and announced mandatory evacuation orders for residences located north of Route 138.

"I would like to extend my gratitude to all of our staff and partners who worked tirelessly to plan and successfully execute this complex operation in an evolving wildfire situation," Anne Kelly, Correctional Service Canada commissioner, said.

"I appreciate the efforts of so many who pulled together to make this happen, while keeping safety and security top of mind."

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