Police and fire departments across the state were busy Monday responding to smoke complaint calls, but the smell was probably from forest fires burning in Quebec, said a dispatcher with the Maine Forest Service. Maine State Police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office received dozens of calls from people with concerns. Chad Arris, a shift supervisor at the sheriff’s office, said the calls came from towns such as Naples, Raymond, Casco, Gray, New Gloucester, Baldwin, Sebago and Gorham. “None of the calls we have received have resulted in a fire,” Arris said.

Portland’s police and fire departments were inundated with 911 calls about the smell of smoke. “They are concerned they are smelling smoke outside, but we believe they are smelling smoke that is being carried from wind currents from Quebec,” said Lt. Chris Goodall of the Portland Fire Department. The National Weather Service issued an air quality alert Monday for northern Vermont and New Hampshire and all but extreme eastern Maine. A special weather statement was issued for New York’s four northernmost counties.

In Massachusetts, an air quality alert extended from the central part of the state to every coastal county. The smoke was worst on Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, said weather service meteorologist Mike Ekster.

Public health officials in Canada and the United States were urging people with respiratory problems to stay inside or avoid exertion outside where the smoke was heavy.

At midday Monday, more than 50 forest fires were burning in northern Quebec, including eight that remained out of control. The smoke was expected to ease late Monday as the winds shifted, blowing the smoke back to the north, officials said.

About 100,000 acres of forest have burned since a May 25 thunderstorm ignited a series of fires. Residents of one central Quebec native community have been evacuated.

Some individuals were evacuated because of health concerns, said Gerard Lacasse, a spokesman in Quebec for the nonprofit Society for the Protection Against Forest Fires.

About 1,200 firefighters, including some from Maine, New Hampshire and other Canadian provinces worked to extinguish the flames.


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