Despite the many awareness campaigns, it seems that the waste from smokers that is sometimes thrown on the ground causes an average of 80 wildfires each year. In hot, dry weather, a cigarette butt that lands in brush can easily start a fire. With a little wind, all the conditions are then met to set the forest ablaze. To reduce the risks, the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) recommends that smokers who work in the forest or who go there for recreational activities to adopt the following behaviors:
• Avoid throwing a cigarette butt out of a vehicle window;
• When smoking, remain motionless on an open surface (dirt, sand or gravel);
• Do not smoke while walking or traveling on an ATV;
• Extinguish the cigarette butt by wetting it or crushing it on a rock;
• Do not throw the cigarette butt on the ground;
• Dispose of the cigarette butt in a container provided for this purpose.
Although it primarily focuses on awareness and education activities, SOPFEU emphasizes that under Article 6 of the Forest Protection Regulation, “from April 1 to November 15, no one may smoke in or near the forest when performing work or traveling, unless it is in a building or a closed vehicle ”. The Sustainable Forest Management Act states that anyone who violates this regulation commits an offense and is liable to a fine of $ 1,000 to $ 5,000.
Since the start of the protection season, 137 fires have affected 62.9 hectares of forest in the intensive protection zone. On average, SOPFEU recorded, at this time of the year, 97 fires for 81.1 ha of affected forest. SOPFEU recalls that each year, around 80% of fires are attributable to human activity. The collaboration of all remains essential to reduce their number.