LANSING — With restrictions starting to loosen in Northern Michigan and the ability for groups of 10 people or less to gather, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking people to celebrate Memorial Day weekend with fire safety in mind.
With plenty of outdoor activities on tap as Michigan kicks off the summer season this Memorial Day weekend, the DNR is reminding everyone fire danger is expected to be high in portions of the state. That means common sense and caution are key to preventing fires.
Fire danger was anticipated to be highest in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula Thursday and Friday but also on Monday. Showers are in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, which may reduce fire risks in some areas on those days.
“People need to be careful with backyard fires,‘ Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist said. “Keep a hose or water handy if you are burning or planning to use any type of fireworks.‘
A significant fire in Crawford County was reported and contained Thursday preceding the start of the long holiday weekend. A total of about 70 homes near Grayling were evacuated Thursday as firefighters battled a fire in privately owned jack pine stands in Crawford County.
The M-72 Fire, estimated at 105 acres, was reported at approximately 5 p.m. along M-72 between Stephan Bridge Road and South Horseshoe Trail, about 8 miles east of Grayling. The fire, which burned a swath about 1 mile long and 0.2 miles wide, was contained around 8:30 p.m. Evacuated residents were able to return to their homes shortly after 9 p.m. Two outbuildings were destroyed.
With the fire reported Thursday and conditions expected to be dry, the DNR wants everyone to take precautions while doing yard work and engaging in outdoor activities this spring.
This includes getting a burn permit by checking at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit and checking local weather and fire danger before burning debris. Permits are required statewide, but the Northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula residents can get permits online.
If a person plans on burning debris when it is allowed they should do it in a barrel with a metal screen, if possible
The DNR also suggests clearing any vegetation around the burn area and making sure there is a source of water nearby when burning. Finally, if a person burns debris they need to stay with the fire until it is completely extinguished.
In addition to the use of safe burning practices, it remains important to continue social distancing of 6 feet or more when working outside with others to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.