Red Flag Fire Warnings Spread Across Northern Michigan

May 27, 2016

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued a ban on all outdoor burning throughout the northern part of the state due to extremely dry conditions and a high risk of wildfires, as per reports from the U.S. Forest Service.

A combined lack of rainfall, low humidity conditions, and high temperatures have prompted officials to issue a Red Flag warning for most of the Upper Peninsula and areas in the Lower Peninsula north of the line running from Muskegon to Bay City.

Fire crews and aircraft teams across the state are on standby in case of fire outbreaks. The Huron-Manistee National Forest is listed at very high fire danger levels, while the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests in the UP are considered very high to extreme.

“It’s very critical,” Chris Peterson, a U.S. Forest Service Fire Staff Officer, told 9and10 News. “We haven’t had a rain now in 7-10 days and with the low relative humidity, and these strong gusty winds, any little spark will carry a fire even in green grass. We’re hoping that we didn’t have many campfires that were left unattended out in the forest over the weekend.”

Wildfires have already been reported in Traverse City and Gaylord but were quickly handled by fire teams. Fires can spread quickly through dry brush and, if not contained, might infiltrate residential areas. The costs of fire and smoke damage to a home are said to average $4,172.

Luckily, Michigan fire officials are well staffed and prepared for summer’s dry spells.

Don Klingler, DNR Fire Management Specialist, told reporters, “We’ve got resources spread all over the Lower Peninsula and the U.P. We’ve taken people out of the offices and put them out into the field in predetermined locations to try and catch a fire while it’s small before it gets large and out of control.”

With the long and widespread damage caused by wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, still fresh in the public’s mind, fire safety is perhaps more important than ever. Though expected thunderstorms in the region could soon calm hazardous conditions, the Forest Service recommends that anyone who spots a wildland fire calls 911 immediately.

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