MONTREAL (CP) - More than 30 forest fires burned across Quebec
Tuesday and almost every region of the province - except the far
north - remained at extreme or high risk for forest fires.
This after a holiday weekend that saw firefighters battle a
total of 75 blazes since Friday.
Firefighters were able to contain fires that were reported early
Tuesday and by late afternoon had been called out to about a dozen
more, said Caroline Girard of the Societe de protection des forets
contre le feu, the provincial forest firefighting agency.
Water bombers were tackling one blaze near Parent, Que., but
Girard said that "nothing is threatening any communities."
"At this time of year (fires) are always easy to control,"
Girard said. Usually only surface leaves and brush burn, not the
forest floor.
More than a dozen fires were clustered in the Laurentians
Tuesday, with three around Ste-Agathe and two in Mont-Laurier. By
late afternoon, others were breaking out in the Mauricie, greater
Quebec City, Lac-St-Jean and Abitibi regions. Sunshine, heat and
lack of humidity were contributing factors.
"As long as we don't get any rain, we have to be
hyper-vigilant," Girard said. And while rain was forecast for
Wednesday, the ground needs a good, thorough soaking to reduce the
risk of fire, Girard said.
The fire protection service continues to recommend that people
avoid lighting fires, and if they do, to light them in the evenings
when greater humidity reduces risk of spreading.
Most fires are caused by carelessness, including tossing
cigarette butts, Girard said.
"Often people light fires to clean their property, to burn off
the leaves and branches, or for campfires when they toast
marshmallows," Girard said.
"But often they forget to put them out properly or burn them
too close to the woods."
(Montreal Gazette)

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)