Fire risk in northern Michigan at ‘extreme levels’ due to hot, dry conditions

DNR photo of a stretch of woods covered in ash after a forest fire in May.
DNR photo of a stretch of woods covered in ash after a forest fire in May.(Michigan Department of Natural Resources)
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 2:34 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The wildfire danger forecast has been set to be “extreme or very high” across northern Michigan due to the hot, dry climate the region has experienced.

Ahead of a tourist-heavy weekend and a holiday that features fireworks, officials from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are warning residents to take appropriate precautions.

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Paul Rogers is a fire prevention specialist for the DNR.

“First and foremost, check to make sure that weather conditions are favorable before attempting to burn yard debris,” said Rogers. “Debris burning that escapes is the top cause of wildfires in Michigan.”

Rogers said that, although the landscape seems green and lush now, some vegetation is drying even across the Lower Peninsula. The danger increases when weather is hot and dry as it has been. It increases even further when it’s windy, as embers can travel far and fast, turning a small fire into a large one.

“If you intend to burn yard debris, go to to see if weather conditions allow for burning,” DNR officials said. “If you’re building a campfire or bonfire, keep it within a contained pit or ring and make sure to thoroughly put it out before leaving the area. That means dousing your fire with water, stirring the ashes and dousing again.”

Other safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Never leave any fire unattended.
  • Keep a hose or other water source nearby.
  • Prevent sparks. Keep trailer chains from dragging and don’t park hot equipment on dry grass.
  • Do not shoot fireworks into the woods or into dry grass or shrubs.
  • It’s illegal to burn plastic, hazardous materials, foam or other household trash. This can release dangerous chemicals into the air.
  • Use a burn barrel with a screen on top to burn paper, leaves and natural materials.

In 2022, DNR wildland firefighters have already fought more than 160 fires covering nearly 3,000 acres.


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