FIFE LAKE, Mich. – A small campfire at a private residence quickly turned into a “raging forest fire” spanning over 100 acres in Northern Michigan over Memorial Day weekend.
About 136 acres were affected by a wildfire that began Sunday, May 28, near the city of Manton -- which is just north of Cadillac in Northwest Michigan. The fire began as a small campfire at someone’s home, which then “escaped its ring and burned through dry grass,” according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Though the homeowner reportedly put water on the fire before heading inside, the fire grew, fueled by dry grass, dry leaves and needles on the ground, officials said. The 136-acre wildfire burned through jack pine trees, red pine trees and oak trees.
The Fife Lake Springfield Fire Department said the campfire grew into a forest fire within minutes. It’s unclear exactly what time the fire began spreading, but officials said it was contained by 10 p.m. on Sunday “before it jumped the Manistee River.”
Dozens of firefighters from multiple crews in the surrounding area responded to the blaze. A nearby campground was evacuated as crews addressed the fire, but visitors were allowed to return by about 11 p.m.
Officials say bulldozers, fire engines, a skidder, and two firefighting aircrafts were used to extinguish the fire. Fire planes reportedly dropped into Fife Lake to extract water to fight the fire.
Dry conditions throughout the state put the region at a higher risk for fires. Very little rain has fallen this Month.
“It hasn’t been this dry before this early in the season,” said Bret Baker, fire supervisor for the Michigan DNR’s Cadillac office.
The Michigan DNR says it will not be issuing any burn permits at this time due to the “very dry” conditions. Officials are reminding residents and visitors that “yard waste burning is the top cause of wildfires in Michigan.”
Fire safety tips
Here are some fire safety tips, as written by the Michigan DNR:
- 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.
- You can use a burn barrel with a screen on top to burn paper, leaves and natural materials.