By JACKIE STARK
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - A small wildfire east of Kawbawgam Road in Chocolay Township burned through 10 acres Friday before crews were able to contain the blaze.
At left, a Department of Natural Resources plane circles the area of a fire in Chocolay Township Friday afternoon, pointing out hotspots to the ground crew working below. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark) Above, the Salvation Army was on hand to provide food and drink to the fire crews Friday afternoon. (Journal photo by Kyle Whitney)
According to Darrell Welch, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, crews were initially called to the fire at 11:30 a.m. about a mile and a half east of Kawbawgam Road.
The fire was located south of a railroad grade running through the woods south of M-28.
A plume of smoke was clearly visible to motorists passing along M-28 in the area, with several stopping in rest areas to get a better view.
Welch said the fire was contained by crews by roughly 2 p.m.
At that time, a DNR plane which had been circling the area was called off the scene.
"Normally, they're up flying for smoke detection. They left here about 2 o'clock. They felt like the grounds crews had it in total control," Welch said.
The plane had been circling the fire, alerting grounds crew to hot spots.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, Welch said crews were in "mop-up mode" on the site. He said crews were expecting to finish up by dark and planned to return to the area today to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.
Welch said the fire was not far-reaching since there wasn't much beyond blueberry bushes to feed it.
"With it only being 10 acres, there wasn't much," Welch said Friday afternoon. "There was some mature timber in the way, but it was caught. It's mostly burning blueberries."
Welch said the cause of the fire is still undetermined.
"It's purely speculation right now," Welch said, noting that the area of the fire meant it could have been inadvertently caused by off-road vehicles driven along the railroad grade.
Welch said crews from the Sands and Chocolay townships volunteer fire departments were on the scene along with DNR officials, as was equipment from Shingleton, Gwinn, Marquette, Ishpeming and Escanaba.
The Salvation Army was also on hand to provide food and drink to the firefighters.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal .net.