Aerial firefighting resources are prepositioned at the Gaylord Airport in response to the recent uptick in wildfires. Warmer temperatures, lower relative humidities and winds have increased the risk of wildfire across the Lower Northern Peninsula prompting the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning today with the potential to reissue the warning daily through Friday. The USDA Forest Service reminds residents to look at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Burn Permit Management System to verify conditions before igniting any yard debris. Photo provided by C. Runyan, USDA Forest Service.
Huron-Manistee National Forests responds to an uptick in wildfires across the Northern Lower Peninsula; cautions residents to be vigilant against accidental ignition
Cadillac, MICH., April 12, 2023 - The Huron-Manistee National Forests (HMNFs) has relocated aerial firefighting resources to the Wexford County airport in Cadillac, Michigan in response to the latest uptick in wildfires across the Northern Lower Peninsula. With the National Weather Service announcing Red Flag conditions for today through Friday evening, it is imperative that the public be aware that their activities outside could spark a wildfire.
On Tuesday, federal wildland firefighting resources responded to seven fires that burned over 100 acres. Two structures were lost yesterday in the Three Mile wildfire in Lake County. Initial attack resources provided structure protection upon arrival while fours Single Engine Airtankers (SEATs) provided aerial support, assisting ground resources with suppression efforts.
Forest Fire Management Officer Kevin Reese stated that a majority of their annual wildfire response is attributed to wildfires caused by debris burning. “With the onset of nice weather, residents are out cleaning up limbs and leaves, and they’re burning their yard litter that has accumulated over the winter,” said Reese.
Reese reported that since the first day of Spring this year, the HMNFs have responded to 30 fires for 183 acres. Seven of those fires on Tuesday contributed to 120 acres of the current total. With predicted fire weather expected to be in the 80’s, sunny and windy, that number is likely to increase.
The National Weather Service had upgraded their initial fire weather watch on Tuesday to a Red Flag for Wednesday April 12, with the potential for Red Flag conditions to occur daily, through Friday night. A Red Flag means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will occur shortly. A combination of strong winds, lower relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.
On Tuesday, the HMNFs sent resources to the Three Mile Fire in Sauble Township Lake County. Initial attack resources immediately requested air support from the aerial firefighting base in Gaylord where the USDA Forest Service has prepositioned four SEATs and a Type 3 Helicopter for wildfire aerial suppression support for the Great Lakes Region. The helicopter was flown to Cadillac today to provide faster response to the west side of the Lower Peninsula
Fuels Officer Brian Stearns said, “Yesterday we noted that there was a lot of wind driven surface burning with a very fast rate of spread. Local winds were blowing leaves across the line with active embers, spreading the fire beyond our control lines.” Stearns noted that this significant spotting of fire across the line demonstrates that conditions are such that larger fires can easily occur through wind driven ignition sources, such as burning leaves and embers from the main fire.
“Be careful with any activities that could potentially lead to a wildfire, “ stated Public Information Officer Travis Owens. Owens noted that such activities as recreation and debris burning hold the highest risk for human caused wildfires. “Now would be a good time to mitigate the spread of a fire to your property. Cut your brush smaller and stack it in small piles, maybe even consider chipping instead of burning. Clean your gutters and the valleys and ridges of your roof to prevent a stray ember from a burn pile or wildfire from landing in an area with ignitable material and starting a house fire.” Additional activities around your home would be to compost those leaves just raked up and move the woodpile off the porch to more than 30 feet away from any structure and cover it.
Owens noted that before you recreate check your equipment:
“While warming fires and cooking fires are still permitted, it is imperative that all fires be dead out and cold to the touch. “Drown, stir and feel with the back of your hand to see if you have properly extinguished your fire,” Owens explained. He added that you may hear crackling , popping and hissing. “If it is still making sounds and ‘talking’, then your fire is still warm enough to dry out and rekindle, which can potentially lead to a wildfire.” Owens added that keeping a bucket, shovel and even a charged garden hose next to the fire pit is a faster response to the event of an escaped fire. “If you lit it, stay with it. Never leave the fire unattended or supervised by inexperienced persons.”
“And always check the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Burn Permit Management System online to verify that burn permits are being issued for your location,” reminded Owens. If your location is not issuing permits, it’s the perfect time to home harden and mitigate the potential spread of a wildfire.
In the event of a wildfire, call your county 911 to report the incident. Do not fight a growing wildfire by yourself. Instead, allow trained firefighters to assess the risks involved and then proceed with initial attack. Also, please refrain from visiting the fire ground or flying drones in and around the operational area. Heavy equipment and personnel are operating within this area to quickly respond to the spread of wildfire. Noise from operational activities and smoke limit the awareness and visibility of those fire ground personnel increasing the risk of an accident. Drone activity greatly increases these inherent risks to aerial and ground resources engaged in fire suppression activities and can lead to fatal results.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.