Quebec’s forest fire fighting agency, SOPFEU, responds to nearly forty forest fires every fall. SOPFEU claims that recreational activities such as hunting are partly responsible for these fires. In order to avoid unfortunate situations, SOPFEU recommends that hunters maintain good practices to avoid being the origin of one of these fires.
A statement from the organization warns that certain activities common during hunting season present risks, especially when fallen leaves and debris in the forest are dry.
When traveling off marked trails, leaves, branches or other organic matter may become lodged near hot parts of the vehicle. It is important to clean the exhaust pipe and the engine, as they can easily ignite any fuel that could stick to it. SOPFEU recommends that you do this check on each trip and avoid traveling off the trails when the danger of fire is high.
When it comes to smokers, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. The Forest Protection Regulations stipulate that no one may smoke in or near the forest while carrying out work or while traveling. To smoke, you must therefore stop on an open surface and it is necessary to extinguish the butt by wetting it and crushing it against a rock. A bottle with a bottom of water or a container with a lid is an effective solution to bring it back safely.
Chalets and temporary shelters
A fire in a cottage or temporary shelter is also a potential source of forest fires. Often, heating equipment is the source of ignition of these fires. In addition to checking its condition, it is recommended to inspect the chimney and make sure that the spark arresters are present and compliant with openings not exceeding one centimeter.
Campfires are also responsible for several forest fires each year. To enjoy one in complete safety, SOPFEU recommends choosing an open area on ground free of any combustible material (leaves or grass) and lighting a fire with a maximum dimension of one meter by one meter. It is important to watch the fire at all times and keep water nearby. Finally, when leaving, make sure to completely extinguish your campfire by watering it abundantly and stirring the embers. Since the start of the protection season in Quebec, 577 fires fought in the intensive protection zone have affected 7,763.3 ha of forest. At the same date, the average for the last ten years was 421 fires that affected 18,353.9 ha of forest in Quebec. SOPFEU points out that around 75% of these fires are attributable to human activity.