Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Small forest fire put out in Oka provincial park as Quebec fire season starts early

By The Canadian Press   

Headlines News Canada wildfire season fire firefighters First Responders Quebec wildfire

Mar. 31, 2024, Montreal, Que. – A small forest fire has been extinguished in a provincial park west of Montreal, signalling an early start to the 2024 wildfire season.

A spokesman for Quebec’s forest fire prevention society, known as SOPFEU, said the fire that broke out Saturday in Oka park was likely caused by a discarded cigarette.

Stéphane Caron said the 2.1-hectare blaze was put out by local fire departments, with firefighters from SOPFEU arriving Sunday morning to extinguish the remaining smoky spots.

Caron said the forest fire season normally gets underway in mid-April but is starting a little earlier than usual due to a less-snowy winter.


He said the spring forest floor is covered with dead leaves and branches that can easily be ignited by a spark from a cigarette or a burn pile that isn’t properly put out.

The early spring means a longer fire season, he said, but it’s too soon to know whether it will be more severe than usual.

“The early disappearance of the snow means the season will start earlier and have more spring fires, but the overall season will depend on whether April is rainy,” he said. “It’s too early to make predictions.”

Oka fire chief Sylvain Johnson said the fire broke out at around 7 p.m. Saturday near the top of a mountainous sector of the park called the Calvaire d’Oka.

He said in an interview that firefighters had to use all-terrain vehicles to reach the blaze, which was extinguished at around 1 a.m. with help from firefighters from the nearby municipalities of Pointe-Calumet and St-Joseph-du-Lac.

Quebec experienced a record-breaking forest fire season in 2023, during which 4.5 million hectares of forest burned. That area, which included 1.1 million hectares in inhabited areas, was higher than the sum of the last 20 years combined, SOPFEU said last fall.

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