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Amid hot, dry weather, Quebec forest fire prevention group on high alert

Quebec's forest fire prevention agency is maintaining a high alert for the rest of this week and says the weather conditions are cause for concern. Quebec provincial police check on forest firefighters as they drive out of the territory closed for the night in La Tuque, Que., Monday, May 31, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot Quebec's forest fire prevention agency is maintaining a high alert for the rest of this week and says the weather conditions are cause for concern. Quebec provincial police check on forest firefighters as they drive out of the territory closed for the night in La Tuque, Que., Monday, May 31, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
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Quebec's forest fire prevention agency is maintaining a high alert and a spokesperson said Tuesday the hot and dry weather descending on the province this week is a cause for concern.

The province on Sunday ordered a ban on open fires in forested areas, and on Tuesday the ban was extended to cover forests and nearby areas.

The territory affected by the ban was also extended Tuesday to include Montreal and several regions that surround it.

The agency, known as SOPFEU, works on forest fire prevention alongside the province's Natural Resources Department.

Fire information officer Melanie Morin said after a wet, rainy start to the season, the danger index was at "high" for the past two weeks and is now at "extreme," where it is expected to remain until at least the end of the week.

"We've had fires that are totally in the boreal forest, some fires that have threatened certain infrastructures, but in all cases, so far we've been able to limit damage throughout the province," Morin said.

A high pressure system over the province is causing very warm and dry weather, and it's making the province's forests vulnerable to wildfires, she said.

Multiple wildfires are burning across the country, notably in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia.

Apart from a 20-person team dispatched last weekend to Alberta for two weeks, all other resources remain available.

"Because our season started more slowly, we were able to respond favourably to requests for help from other provinces, including Alberta," Morin said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were nine active fires in Quebec.

Since the beginning of the season, authorities have detected 194 fires that have burned about 318 hectares.

The 10-year average for the same time period is 188 fires burning an area of about 185 hectares.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.

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