Dry conditions in region call for care in handling fire

With Memorial Day behind us and camping season now in full swing, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants the public to keep fire safety in mind, as fire danger is currently elevated across the state.

” … Conditions are dry in much of the state. Be careful with fire, ORVs and outdoor equipment and take precautions to keep yourself and others safe,” said Don Klingler, resource protection manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Fire danger is high or very high statewide in the coming days, with pockets of extreme risk across the northern Lower Peninsula.

Even if the landscape looks green, vegetation still can be dry, said Keith Murphy, a DNR fire management specialist based in the Upper Peninsula.

“Due to the low relative humidity, needle moisture in pines and lack of good rainfall, certain areas of the Upper Peninsula can definitely burn,” he said. Several of Michigan’s largest wildfires in the past have started during the last two weeks in May.

The DNR also said that most wildfires are caused by people, and in Michigan, yard waste burning is the top offender. If a backyard fire gets away from you, call 911 immediately.

“People get out there and don’t realize how fast a fire can take off, especially if there is any breeze that can carry an ember,” Klingler said.

Check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit before you start your fire to make sure weather conditions allow for safe burning. In southern Lower Peninsula communities, consult local fire authorities.

Always keep fire safety in mind. Use these tips to keep your outdoor activities fire safe:

≤ Keep a hose or other water source nearby when burning. Prevent sparks. Keep trailer chains from dragging when you’re on the road; don’t park hot equipment on dry grass.

≤ Contain your campfire or bonfire in a pit or ring and make sure you put it out thoroughly before leaving for the night. Douse the fire with water, stir the ashes and douse again.

≤ Never leave any fire, including hot coals, unattended.

≤ Never shoot fireworks into the woods, 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, causing harm to you or others. Dispose of these materials properly.

≤ You can use a burn barrel with a screen on top to burn paper, leaves and natural materials.

More fire safety information is available at Michigan.gov/FireManagement.

Since the beginning of fire season in March, DNR wildland firefighters have fought at least 124 fires covering nearly 700 acres.

In addition, the National Weather Service reminds the public that burn restrictions remain in effect. For complete details, visit www.dnr.state.mi.us/burnpermits, or by calling 866-922-2876.

We’ve been waiting for months to get some nice weather, and it has finally arrived. However, in order to protect this beautiful place in which we reside, we must use caution and common sense.


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