Campfires banned across Quebec following early spring and low precipitation

Evening campfires are off the table for the week-end, as most of the province is under a strict fire ban.

Forest fire prevention agency is asking Quebecers to avoid all open fires

Quebec's forest fire prevention agency, SOPFEU, is asking Quebecers to stick to campfires that have fire screens and avoid all open air fires, particularly near wooded areas. (Andrew Pacey/CBC)

A strict ban on open fires is in force in most regions of the province, as the risk of forest fires varies from very high to extreme.

SOPFEU, Quebec's forest fire prevention agency, is asking Quebecers to avoid making campfires or using any objects that could create sparks, like fireworks.

The Ministry of Forests and Parks has implemented the ban in almost every region of the province, with the exception of the Eastern Townships, the Lower North Shore, Anticosti and Nunavik.

As of Thursday, 15 forest fires were burning across Quebec, affecting more than 4,755 hectares of land. But so far this year, there have been 329 fires in total.

"That is much more than we have usually at this time of year, which is usually around around 190 fires," said Isabelle Gariépy, a spokesperson with SOPFEU.

"Spring came very very quickly this year, so when spring is early we have a lot of fires," said Gariépy.

Low precipitation and high temperatures in May and early June have brought on very dry conditions, according to Environment Canada.

Practically all of Quebec, with the exception of the Eastern Townships and Nunavik, is affected by the fire ban. (SOPFEU)

"The rivers of most of southern and central Quebec are almost at their lowest levels," said meteorologist André Cantin.

"The risk of forest fires is quite high, and as we do not forecast any precipitation the risk will likely remain high for the next couple of weeks," Cantin said.

Very dry conditions in 2020 also brought on a ban on spring campfires, that stretched from June 16 to June 25, beyond the traditional Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations of June 24.

The month of June 2020 was one of the most active months of the past ten years, when it comes to the number of fires as well as the total acreage of affected forest. That month, 70 per cent of the fires were caused by human activity.

Bonfires, fireworks and sky lanterns are also forbidden in regions that fall under the fire ban. (SOPFEU)

With files from Quebec AM and Franca Mignacca