The extreme heat expected in the coming days has led the Quebec government to ban campfires in or near forests in many areas of the province. Not all fires are caused by people, but you must know the rules before striking a match!
There is a complete ban on open-air fires in force right now in many areas of the province. It applies to backyards just as to forests. The government of Quebec can impose such a ban when the risk of forest fires is high, such as during a heat wave.
The ban currently applies to Nord-du-Québec, Côte-Nord, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie, the Quebec City region, Lower St. Laurent, Outaouais, the Laurentians, Lanaudière, Chaudière-Appalaches, Montérégie, and Gaspé.
The fine for lighting a fire in an area under a ban is $500 to $50,000!
To find out if your region is under a ban, visit the website of the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (forest fire prevention society).
In or near a forest
When no ban is in effect, the rules regarding campfires set out in the Forest Protection Regulation must be respected. This means that, before setting a campfire in or near a forest, you must make sure to
- clear all dead wood, branches, scrub, dead leaves and humus from an area large enough to prevent the fire from spreading,
- have equipment ready to prevent the fire from spreading and to extinguish it, and
- remain there until the fire is completely extinguished.
The fine for violating these rules is $1,000 to $5,000.
In national parks
If you’re camping in one of the national parks of the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Quebec national parks administration) and there is no ban in force in that region, you can make a campfire in specifically marked places. If you’re camping in one of Park Canada’s national parks, and no ban is in force in that region, you can make a fire in a designated fire pit, a portable stove, a hibachi or a barbecue.
Each municipality sets its own fire-prevention rules. Before striking a match, check if there’s a complete ban in force in your area and, if not, whether your municipality allows fires. You should also check if any special rules apply. For example, you might need a permit or a fire might only be allowed in a fireplace.