Quebec on high alert for forest fire risk

Flames burn on the horizon near Wabush, Newfoundland on Thursday June 27, 2013. Neil Simmons/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – Quebec’s fire protection agency is warning that the risk of fire is high in many regions of the province.

The Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire (SOPFEU) is asking Quebecers to be cautious.

“A myth persists that the critical period for fires is during the summer when it’s very hot,” said the agency in a statement.

“The reality is very different. In the spring even if Quebec gets a lot of rainfall for several days, when the sun and wind intensity increase rapidly, fire danger rises.”

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It said that the most vulnerable areas are fields, roadsides, under power lines and near railways when grass, hay and leaves quickly dry up.

So far this season, there have been 17 fires, a number well below the 10-year average of 109, but the agency is warning that this could quickly change with sunny, warm weather and high winds.

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A map indicating the areas at risk to fire in Quebec on May 8, 2014. SOPFEU

5 fire safety prevention tips

• Double check with your municipal authority to make sure fires are allowed
• Build the fire on mineral soil, sheltered from the wind and a safe distance from anything that could catch fire
• Keep the blaze small
• Wait until it’s dark to light a fire
• Stay with the fire until it’s completely out

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