The battle of fire forest against the flames continued Sunday in the north of lake Saint-Jean, where the fire which began last Tuesday, is gaining constantly in the field. Even if the fire sector of the Chute-des-Passes is still considered ” out of control “, the authorities want reassuring.
“When we talk about “out of control”, it is that one is not yet at the stage of controlling the fire completely, but that we work to lead and guide them through specific actions, ” said Pierre Dufour, the minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks in Québec (MFFP), at a press conference at Roberval, on Sunday afternoon, after flying over the fire. The hydroelectric power station Péribonka IV, just south of the fire area, would be especially out of danger.
By this day heatwave, a team of 75 people fought the fire on different fronts. Two air tankers and their crews arrived from Ontario to provide reinforcements. According to the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), the fire affected an area of 62 396 acres Sunday afternoon, the equivalent of one and a half times the island of Montreal. Access to the sector as a whole is prohibited.
Co-owner with three friends to a cottage on the shores of lac du Loup-Cervier, in the heart of the perimeter of the fire, Steeve Garneau worry about not ever seeing the residence standing. “It took us 10 years to build the cottage, we even roamed the earth. It was completed for only two years, ” says, sorry, this father of a family.
In the press conference, the minister Dufour showed to the camera the photo of the remains of the camp fire which has probably triggered the fire. Due to the hot weather and dry, the government has banned open fires across the south of the 52nd parallel. In the region which is filled with fire, a few showers are expected Monday and Tuesday, and the weather a little cooler from Wednesday.
Since the beginning of the spring, the SOPFEU has identified 445 forest fires in the province, while the average for the past 10 years at the same date is 229. With 62 396 hectares affected, the fire to the north of lake Saint-Jean area represents more than 98 % of the affected areas for the time being in 2020.
Year-to-year, the total area of burned forest in Quebec varies greatly. In 2010, more than 220,000 hectares of land have been ravaged by fires. Conversely, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, only a few hundreds of hectares were burned.
Fauna and flora
For life new year’s eve, a fire such as that of the Chute-des-Passes is part of the normal course of things.
“The fauna and flora of the boreal forest have evolved to persist in spite of fires recurring,” explains Dominique Gravel, a specialist in ecology from the University of Sherbrooke. In fact, a high number of species depend on them. For example, the black spruce and jack pine to see their cones open when they are subjected to the high heat of fires, thus freeing their seeds. “
In the years following a forest fire, the abundance of some species increases. The woodpeckers eat the insects who are, themselves, trying to nibble on the dead trees. The berries, which grow best without forest cover, to attract the bears that feed on them. The plants benefit from the nutrients from the ashes.
This is the percentage that represent the damage caused by the forest fire that is raging at this time in the area of the Chute-des-Passes on all of the areas affected by such fires in Quebec in 2020.
Over the next few decades, climate change will increase the number of fires and area burned forest in Quebec. The climate scientists of the federal government estimate that the area burned each year in the region north of lac Saint-Jean, for example, will quadruple by the end of the century, compared to the current standard, even in an optimistic scenario of emissions reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Breaking the current cycle, this change of diet may be harmful for the wild life, because two fires in a row on the same territory make it much more difficult regeneration. “When young forests burn, it is a serious problem,” said Mr. Gravel. If the trees destroyed by fire are not mature enough to contain seeds, it can occur in accidents of regeneration “. It is then necessary centuries for the forest to regain its erstwhile wealth.
The old-growth forests serve as a refuge for fauna and flora. To ensure the conservation, the MFFP protects certain “exceptional forest ecosystems” since 2002. One of them, the ancient Forest of the Island-Poirier, a black spruce-fir 79 hectares, is located just to the east of the current fire of the Chute-des-Passes. According to the map of the SOPFEU, the flames would have reached this small island of less than five kilometres immersed in the reservoir Pipmuacan.
It is located in the forest of the Island-Poirier of very many black spruce trees over 200 years old, and even a rod of which it is estimated the age to be 333 years old. No fire, insect epidemics, storm winds, or forest does not appear to have done any damage since at least two centuries.