Preventing forest fires at Mont Rougemont

Preventing forest fires at Mont Rougemont
Preventing forest fires at Mont Rougemont

The arrival of hot, dry weather is reminiscent of last year’s forest fires. The Mont Rougemont Association (AMR) is preparing accordingly.

“As long as there is no drought, we don’t think about it. But as soon as there are a few dry and sunny days, we start thinking about it,” explains Pierre Pontbriand, coordinator of the AMR. He recalls that “contrary to the impression that many people have”, the deciduous forest of the Montérégies can easily catch fire after a few days of dry weather. Certain areas are also rich in conifers, which are very conducive to conflagration.

Human cause

Pierre Pontbriand estimates that 80% of Quebec forest fires are caused by human activity. At Mont Rougemont, improperly extinguished campfires are the main concern. “The owners themselves are very careful. But walkers who, in principle, do not have authorization to walk at Mont Rougemont are perhaps not as vigilant,” he adds. In terms of negligence that could cause fires on the mountain site, the coordinator refers to unauthorized camping, poorly placed campfires, too large and improperly extinguished.

“The only explanation we have found for this fire is the possibility of a fire started by walkers. » – Pierre Pontbriand

In 2017, as a continuous drizzle fell on the mountain, the AMR awareness team arrived at the edge of a body of water where a fire had begun to spread, despite the rain. It took a good hour to turn it off. In 2021, SOPFEU took one day to extinguish the raging fire. “The only explanation we found for this fire is the possibility of a fire lit by walkers,” concludes Mr. Pontbriand. Last year, there were no fires. “Despite this, we still found unauthorized fire rings,” he maintains.

The fault of the deer

In connection with the fires, deer are also singled out. “Intense grazing by deer could explain why we have fewer and fewer herbaceous undergrowth plants, and therefore encourage fire,” estimates Pierre Pontbriand. He specifies that these plants help maintain a certain humidity on the surface of the soil despite hot and sunny days.

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