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A reporter takes a photo of trees damaged by fire during a tour near Lebel-sur-Quevillon, Que., on July 5.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Quebec’s forest fire prevention agency says the area burned by wildfires this year was greater than the previous 20 years combined.

SOPFEU director general Éric Rousseau told reporters today that some 4.5 million hectares of land burned during this year’s record-breaking fire season, including more than 1.1 million in the bottom half of the province, where most people live.

Rousseau says that while the province’s resources were strained, there were no deaths, primary residences lost or critical infrastructure destroyed.

Forest Minister Maïté Blanchette Vézina says the province’s recent economic update included an additional $16 million for the fire prevention agency.

She says the money will go toward the purchase of new equipment, fire prevention initiatives and ways to make communities more resilient to extreme weather events.

Rousseau says about 20 of the agency’s employees needed to take leave because of the strain from this year’s historic wildfire season.

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