Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday the large majority of Quebec homes still without power after an ice storm two days earlier would have electricity restored before midnight.
Speaking to reporters in Quebec City, Legault thanked Hydro-Quebec crews, whom he said worked through Tuesday night "in very difficult conditions."
Legault urged people experiencing outages to exercise caution after 10 people were taken to hospital Tuesday night suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning after using barbecues indoors. Fire officials have reported 17 fires caused by candles or generators too close to homes.
"We should be able to fix the large majority of power outages by tonight, so be careful," Legault said, adding that the utility expects to be able to reconnect all but 15,000 homes by 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Hydro-Quebec reported that 52,066 customers were still without power at 6 p.m. Wednesday, primarily in the regions of Laval, Lanaudiere and the Laurentians.
High winds and freezing rain on Monday left ice accumulated on trees and knocked down power lines. The utility says more than 313,000 customers were in the dark at the height of the outages.
On Tuesday, officials in Laval, a densely populated suburb just north of Montreal, said police were patrolling the city as phone service was down in some neighbourhoods. Sylvain Gariepy, operations chief for the Laval fire department, said firefighters went door-to-door to check on seniors and other vulnerable people.
Laval Mayor Marc Demers urged families and neighbours to look out for one another. "If you have members of your family — parents, brothers, sisters — who are in a zone that's lacking electricity, check in on their situation to make sure we're not forgetting someone in distress," Demers said.