DNR: Take heed of elevated fire danger amid dry conditions

Even with recent rain in some parts of the state, much of Michigan is very dry. That means fire safety should be a high priority for anyone working or playing outdoors, the state Department of Natural Resources warns.

“We are beginning to see seasonal drought conditions across much of the state. Intermittent rainfall in some areas hasn’t been enough to lessen those conditions,” said Paul Rogers, fire prevention specialist for the Michigan DNR. “We urge residents and visitors to use caution when burning.”

Add the possibility of storms Saturday through Sunday morning into the mix and the risk of fires rises even further.

So residents and visitors alike are advised to check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit before lighting any fire to make sure weather conditions allow for safe burning.

Even where allowed, the public should use extreme caution when burning, the DNR advises — nine out of 10 wildfires are sparked by human activity, with yard waste burning being the top cause of wildfires in Michigan.

Fire danger goes up when weather is hot and dry and increases further when it’s windy. Windborne embers can travel far and fast, turning a small fire into a large one, according to the DNR. Lightning strikes are a factor as well if storms are predicted.

The DNR offers these safety tips when burning outdoors:

— Keep campfires or bonfires contained in a pit or ring and make sure to put them 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.

— Always keep a hose or other water source nearby when burning. A shovel is handy as well for smothering the fire with dirt or sand.

— Prevent sparks, such as keeping trailer chains from dragging and not parking hot equipment on dry grass.

— Do not shoot fireworks into the woods, dry grass or shrubs.

— It’s illegal to burn plastic, hazardous materials, foam or other household trash, as they can release dangerous chemicals into the air.

— A burn barrel with a screen on top can be used when burning paper, leaves and natural materials to help reduce burning fragments being carried away.

For more fire safety tips, go to Michigan.gov/FireManagement.

In 2022, DNR wildland firefighters already have fought more than 170 fires in Michigan covering in excess of 3,200 acres.

Help avoid adding to that total by being careful and safe with fires outdoors.

–Iron Mountain Daily News

Editorial staff


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