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Massive fire burns Quebec shrimp plant a week after closure announced



Massive fire burns Quebec shrimp plant a week after closure announced

Provincial authorities in Quebec have taken over the investigation into Friday night’s massive fire at a shrimp processing plant in the town of Matane, Que., on the Gaspé Peninsula. This comes one week after the factory announced its closure.

Firefighters were called to Fruits de mer de l’Est du Québec before 7 p.m. March 29, and by midnight municipal officials ordered nearby residents to evacuate their homes.

Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officer Stéphane Tremblay says firefighters were initially heading up the probe into the cause of the blaze, but new information led them to transfer the case to investigators with the provincial police’s major crimes unit.

The riding’s National Assembly representative Pascal Bérubé shared a video from the scene on social media shortly after the fire began showing smoke emanating from the building.

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He issued a statement saying he would not comment any further on the incident until he had more information.

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“This is another loss in our community,” he wrote, referencing last week’s statement from the plant’s owner announcing its closure. He said Matane residents had hoped the factory would find a buyer.

The evacuation order for local residents was lifted at 5:30 a.m. once firefighters extinguished the flames and officials determined that there was no air quality threat.

Police say an analysis of the scene will continue through the weekend.

Matane Mayor Eddy Métivier had 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.

The town has a population of roughly 14,000 according to the 2021 census data.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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