Quebec so far spared by forest fire season

Quebec until&rsquo ;here spared by the forest fire season

SOPFEU has recorded 305 fires since the beginning of the year in Quebec, including 63 caused by smokers' articles.

After having been the scene of forest fires that have destroyed tens of thousands of hectares in recent years, Quebec has so far experienced an average seasonal summer. However, it would be ill-advised to let our guard down during the month of August, which is often conducive to fires.

As of July 29, the Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire (SOPFEU) identified 305 fires that affected nearly 232 hectares of forest. This is below the 10-year rolling average at the same date, or 369 fires for approximately 18,734 hectares burned.

While firefighters have tried to tame the flames in Alberta and Manitoba, the fires that have broken out so far in Quebec present less fighting difficulties and have ravaged a smaller area than average, notes Josée Poitras , prevention and communications officer at SOPFEU's Central Regional Office.

As of July 2021, the province had experienced 393 fires and had 6,149 hectares destroyed by the flames. The season ended with a total of 600 fires for 6995.9 hectares burned, a higher number of fires than usual but an area damaged below average.

It was rather the summer of 2020 that made an impression: 62,470 hectares burned that year during a season that began with a hotter and drier than normal spring.

“The critical time for forest fires – those of large areas, which represent great difficulties of combat – is spring. »

— Josée Poitras, SOPFEU Prevention and Communications Officer

As long as the vegetation has not yet grown, as long as the soils are not greenfire, until the tree leaves are out, there is a potential risk of fuel drying out. And that's what makes then we have very violent [fires] during the season, explains Ms. Poitras.

This year, spring, punctuated by a few surface fires, was within the seasonal norm. The drying up was interrupted by a very humid and exceptionally rainy month of June. These conditions have reduced the risk of fires in Quebec's forests.

So far, half of the fires are resident fires – started by people who live in suburban areas or in the forest – while a quarter of the provisional toll is attributable to recreational fires, which occur especially on the sidelines of fishing, hunting or picnicking activities.

We also have a lot of occurrences of fires involving the burning of scrap [and] fewer fires caused by lightning this year, explains Josée Poitras.

Of more than 300 fires, fires caused by smoking articles numbered 63. They affected some 40 hectares of forest, the equivalent of La Fontaine Park in Montreal, a significant area, according to Ms. Poitras.

The rest of the fires recorded are linked to industrial activities (9%) or forestry (5%) as well as to other various causes, for example example a vehicle that catches fire and whose flames reach the forest.

Year after year, the largest proportion of fires, more than 75%, can be prevented because what are man-made fires, Poitras insists.

Are people being negligent? Carefree, rather, she nuances. Not all Quebecers have integrated the prevention measures that make it possible to avoid unfortunate incidents.

Around a campfire, there is no It's not uncommon for someone to be responsible for fanning the flames, she gives as an example. The error occurs when going to bed: instead of properly extinguishing the fire with water, we let it slowly decrease.

“Instinctively, we tell ourselves that if we stop feeding the fire, it will die on its own. However, there are still embers, and it is a fire that can cause a lot of damage. »

— Josée Poitras, SOPFEU Prevention and Communications Officer

If the forest fire season does nothing to alarm Quebecers until x27; now, caution is in order for the rest of the summer. Generally drier than July, August is a season for fires.

Dried out twigs and leaves that fall to the ground can become fire fuel. origin of depth fires (also called ground fires).

While Quebecers take advantage of the tourist season to pitch their tents in the forest, everyone's vigilance is necessary to prevent #x27;a cigarette, an ATV or a badly extinguished campfire darken the holidays, according to SOPFEU.

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