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Ministry bans open-air fires in forested areas

A serious blaze that started as a brush fire in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield required the intervention of 12 fire departments as well as SOPFEU aircraft. (PHOTO Lucien Brault – Le Journal Saint-François)

A ban on open-air fires in or around forested areas has been imposed by the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks in 13 regions, including all 13 MRCs and the agglomeration of Longeuil in the Monteregie.

The decision, which was taken in collaboration with the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), aims to limit the risk of forest or brush fires due to current conditions and increasing temperatures over the coming days.

The ban was announced on May 6 and went into effect the following morning.

Under section 239 of the Sustainable Forest Management Act, those found in violation of an order prohibiting open-air fires in the vicinity of a forest are liable to fines ranging from $500 to $50,000.

According to the SOPFEU, there are currently two active forest fires in Quebec. Since the start of the season, 69 fires have affected 73.5 hectares. The average for the last 10 years at this time of year is 81 fires for an area of 58.8 hectares.

Though not directly related to the announcement of the ban, a general alarm fire on May 5 in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield was the result of a brush fire that started behind the businesses in the Perron Industrial and Harbour Park. The fire began spreading quickly due to the wind.

According to the Journal Saint-François, firefighters from Coteau-du-Lac, Saint-Zotique, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Les Cèdres, Châteauguay, Beauharnois, Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka, Saint-Étienne-de-Beauharnois, Sainte-Barbe and Saint-Anicet were all called to assist in battling the flames.

Two SOPFEU aircraft were also called in to help control the blaze. The planes were first used to control the perimeter, and then to assist the firefighters on the ground where two piles of wood stacked on the property of Industries JPB continued to burn overnight. Firefighters were still on site the following day to ensure the fire did not reignite.

The smoke plume from the fire was visible from as far away as Huntingdon and Ormstown. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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