Quebec fire protection service reports decrease in forest fires compared to last decade

 
21 August 2017

published by http://montrealgazette.com


Canada - As forest fires continue to ravage British Columbia, Quebec has seen a decrease in the number of forest fires this year compared to the past 10 years, Quebec’s Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) reported.

So far this year, SOPFEU said the province has been affected by 238 forest fires that destroyed 6,615 hectares of land. These numbers stand in sharp contrast with the annual average over the last 10 years, which is 432 forest fires that damaged 61,169 hectares of land.

Isabelle Gariépy, a SOPFEU prevention and information agent, said the weather as well as prevention campaigns aimed at reducing the number of forest fires caused by human error are some factors that have contributed to this year’s decline in wildfires.

“Heat waves were short this summer,” Gariépy said, adding that longer-lasting heat waves increase the risk of forest fires.

On average, Gariépy said, 70 per cent of forest fires are caused by human activity. However, she added, fires started by people don’t cause as much damage as lightning, which decimates larger areas on average.

Of the 238 incidents reported so far this year, she said 76 per cent were caused by human error and 24 per cent were caused by lightning.

Gariépy said it’s hard to predict whether the province will continue to have a relatively low number of forest fires.

“The season isn’t over yet,” she said. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”

On Monday afternoon, SOPFEU dispatched 54 staff members to British Columbia in order to help fight the wildfires decimating the western province’s forests. In total, SOPFEU has sent 168 forest firefighters and 14 team leaders, as well as four tanker aircrafts and other equipments since the fires in British Columbia began.