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Tinder dry conditions make fires much more likely

There are few more destructive forces to a natural environment than wildfire.

Every summer season, it seems, thousands of acres of Michigan forests go up in smoke because of human carelessness, never mind the damage Mother Nature can do through lightning strikes.

If there is a war against wildfires in the state of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources certainly are on the front lines of it.

DNR personnel are typically among the first on any wildfire scene. It’s dangerous, dirty work that has to be done.

Currently, the agency reports that the fire danger is high around the state. Up in our neck of the woods, literally, we haven’t had a lot of rain in recent days and the winds have been gusty.

DNR officials suggest residents and visitors alike be careful with campfires, debris burning and other activities.

Whether you plan to get in some early-season camping, hit the trail on an ORV or clean up dead wood around your property, keep in mind that fire danger is high.

“Even though the landscape is green, our forests and grasses are very dry,” Paul Rogers, fire prevention specialist with the Forest Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said in a press release. “A fire can escape and move quickly due to the dry air and dry fuels.” Fuels includes things such as dry grass, brush and downed tree branches.

If you build a campfire or a bonfire, enjoy the dancing flames but never leave the fire unattended, even for a moment. Make sure you always have water on hand while the fire is burning. Douse your fire with water, stir the ashes and douse with water again before going to bed or leaving the site.

If you plan to burn yard debris, first check Michigan.gov/ BurnPermit or with your local municipality to ensure burning is permitted in your area. Keep your fire at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or other debris and make sure no branches are hanging overhead.

If you plan to use an ORV, power tools or other machinery, be careful to keep sparks from igniting leaves or grass. A hot muffler or engine also can touch off a fire.

Be smart and be a part of the solution and not the problem.

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