Michigan DNR warn residents the consequences of sparking a wildfire

If you happen to be the spark to the wildfire, there are fines, tickets and you may be responsible for some of the suppression costs relating to the fire.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The large wildfire that started near Grayling on Saturday afternoon due to a private campfire is now more than 90% contained.

The fire is burning about 2,400 acres. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also announced that the dry weather is not helping reduce the risk of extreme fire danger across the state.

The fire risk is at an extremely high level across Mid-Michigan and the entire state. There hasn’t been enough rainfall to enjoy summertime activities around a campfire. The lack of rain and dry conditions pose a much higher risk of spreading fire accidentally.

“Just a spark can cause a fire,” said Kerry Heckman.

And with just a mix of dry weather, it can cover a lot of ground, in a short amount of time.

Kerry Heckman works with The Department of Natural Resources. While wildfires like what recently happened in Northern Michigan turned out huge, this one started as a small campfire.

“It’s not unusual for us to see drought in the summer where we have the similar factors but for us to see it this early in the year is a little bit unusual,” said Heckman.

If you happen to be the spark to the wildfire, there are more than fines and tickets to pay.

“They may be responsible for some of the suppression cost relating to the fire,” said Heckman.

Over at Cottonwood Campground in Lansing, what started as a small fire on the campgrounds, turned into a brush fire in just minutes.

“The way the fire spread yesterday people say it’s fast as, faster than you can run. There was a gust of wind caught, and that fire jumped 15 feet,” said Jacob Schmidt.

Schmidt says individuals should hold themselves accountable for wildfires on the property.

“It’s more of a personal responsibility. You gotta realize what can be the most catastrophic thing that could happen if I’m doing this in an unsafe way,” said Schmidt.

Heckman says the safety of firefighters is a priority. And making sure the public remains safe.

“That means more than just putting water on it put water on it stir it up put more water on it and then use the back of your hand to put it over the fire area. If you feel any heat, it is not extinguished,” said Heckman.

Knowing when to light it and how to put it out can save time and life. According to the DNR, this year there have been 16 more fires compared to last year. They also say this type of dry weather hasn’t been around for more than 20 years.

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