Open fires banned near forests in several parts of Quebec
With hot weather forecasted across Quebec this week, the province's forest fire agency is advising the public not to light outdoor fires until at least Thursday.
"In the next few days, it's critical," said Stéphane Caron, spokesperson for the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU). "[Conditions] could make for fires with good spread and good intensity."
SOPFEU is urging Quebecers to take extra care extinguishing campfires and to use caution when operating heat-emitting equipment in the forest.
"Even when using all-terrain vehicles such as ATVs, we ask people to stay on marked trails and not to travel off-trail -- in trails where there will be dry brush which could easily be flammable -- because hot engine parts, such as the exhaust pipe, can ignite the brush," Caron explained.
A total of 152 forest fires have been recorded by SOPFEU since mid-April, affecting 142.5 hectares.
On average, the organization records 179 fires at this time of year.
Over the past thirty years or so, there has been a decrease in the number of fires, which is quite appreciable," Caron continued. "We don't know if this is something that's going to continue, particularly with climate change, but we've seen a new upward trend over the last five or six years."
QUEBEC BANS FIRES IN OR NEAR FORESTS
The province has outright banned open fires in or near forested areas in several locations.
The measure took effect on Sunday at 7 p.m. in the following areas.
- NORD-DU-QUÉBEC: Jamésie, Administration régionale Kativik, Eeyou Istchee (Waswanipi, Mistissini, Oujé-Bougoumou, Chisasibi, Eastmain, Nemiscau, Waskaganish, Wemindji).
- CÔTE-NORD: La Haute-Côte-Nord, Manicouagan, Sept-Rivières, Caniapiscau, Minganie – Île-d'Anticosti.
- SAGUENAY–LAC-SAINT-JEAN: Le Domaine-du-Roy, Maria-Chapdelaine, Lac-Saint-Jean-Est, Saguenay, Le Fjord-du-Saguenay.
- ABITIBI-TÉMISCAMINGUE: Témiscamingue, Rouyn-Noranda, Abitibi-Ouest, Abitibi, La Vallée-de-l'Or.
- MAURICIE: Mékinac, Shawinigan, Trois-Rivières, Les Chenaux, Maskinongé, La Tuque.
- QUEBEC CITY: Charlevoix-Est, Charlevoix, L'Île-d'Orléans, La Côte-de-Beaupré, La Jacques-Cartier, Québec, Portneuf.
- BAS-SAINT-LAURENT: La Matapédia, La Matanie, La Mitis, Rimouski-Neigette, Les Basques, Rivière-du-Loup, Témiscouata, Kamouraska.
- GASPÉSIE–ÎLES-DE-LA-MADELEINE: Le Rocher-Percé, La Côte-de-Gaspé, La Haute-Gaspésie, Bonaventure, Avignon.
- OUTAOUAIS: Papineau, Gatineau, Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais, La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, Pontiac.
- THE LAURENTIANS: Deux-Montagnes, Thérèse-De Blainville, Mirabel, La Rivière-du-Nord, Argenteuil, Les Pays-d'en-Haut, Les Laurentides, Antoine-Labelle.
- LANAUDIÈRE: D'Autray, L'Assomption, Joliette, Matawinie, Montcalm, Les Moulins.
- CHAUDIÈRE-APPALACHES: L'Islet, Montmagny, Bellechasse, Lévis, La Nouvelle-Beauce, Beauce-Centre, Les Etchemin, Beauce-Sartigan, Les Appalaches, Lotbinière.
- MONTÉRÉGIE: Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
SOPFEU RENEWS AID TO ALBERTA
SOPFEU announced this week that it will be renewing its assistance to Alberta, which is still dealing with major forest fires. Some 20 new firefighters were deployed west on Saturday to take over from those returning to Quebec.
Caron points out that the situation in Alberta has improved, but remains precarious.
Resources are therefore needed to carry out all the extinguishing work.
"For the rest, we'll see if the weather goes their way," he said.
On Saturday, Alberta authorities warned that hot, dry conditions are expected this weekend in some areas, keeping the province on its guard.
So far, Quebec has loaned Alberta 52 forest firefighters, a major fire management team of 12 specialists, an information officer, three agency representatives and combat equipment, SOPFEU said in a release.
With files from the Canadian Press