ALGER COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – With warmer weather, dry conditions, and high winds, the threat of wildfires is extremely high. The Michigan DNR explains how serious the threat of wildfires currently is here in the UP.
It’s a perfect late spring afternoon across the Upper Peninsula, but it’s also perfect conditions for wildfires. Here at The Michigan DNR’s UP fire command in Harvey, resource protection manager Celeste Chingway is in charge of coordinating the response to any wildfires that break out. She describes the potential for fires as critical.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of danger out there right now we’re asking people not to burn. Even campfires if they you know if they’re gonna do a campfire, they’re still legal but what they want to do is make sure that it’s completely out before they leave. And just simply covering it with soil isn’t going to work because the soil will burn.” Said Chingway.
Her office takes in reports of smoke and flames and then dispatches ground crews to take action. This map shows all the various jurisdictions and what fire suppression resources are available.
“We actually coordinate all fire incidents across the up.” Said Chingway. “And we coordinate with downstate as well but this office itself coordinates all our DNR fire offices response to fires, so if a fire starts in Sault St. Marie, they call us we start getting equipment to bump over that way to help those people fight that fire.”
One such fire broke out yesterday near Lost Lake in Alger County. Local resident Tom Seymour was able to capture this dramatic footage showing the fire and the aerial fire suppression efforts in action.
The DNR has classified the risk of wildfires as extreme. Burning of debris is prohibited, and campfires need to be closely watched, and doused with water when done. Chingway says any spark can lead to a catastrophe, and caution is recommended when using any motorized device outside, as exhaust from even a lawnmower can spark a wildfire.
“People need to be careful. Little things we’ve had several starts with lawn mores so people just out mowing their lawn and look behind them and they’ve got they’ve got a fire started, they hit a rock or something like that. And it starts the fire.” Explained Chingway.
With no rain in the forecast and windy conditions expected all week, The Michigan DNR asks everyone to heed the words of Smokey the Bear. Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires. To learn more about fire safety, please visit https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/managing-resources/forestry/fire