Department of Natural Resources warning of high fire danger across Michigan

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MICHIGAN (WJRT) (7/11/2018) - Michigan has seen several large wildfires this week as hot and dry weather conditions have made much of the state susceptible to rapid fire growth.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said the recent stretch of weather has sucked moisture out of vegetation, greatly increasing the state's fire risk.

While several Mid-Michigan fire departments have issued burn bans for their jurisdictions, the DNR is not enacting a statewide ban yet. However, no burn permits will be issued in much of the northern Lower Peninsula until a significant rainfall comes.

The DNR warns that simple activities like riding ATVs or running a lawnmower by a field or wooded area could ignite a large wildfire. A trailer dragging a chain could start a fire along a roadway.

“The layer of decomposing leaves and grasses in the ground has dried out,” said Paul Rogers, a fire prevention specialist with the DNR. “That means fires that do ignite will burn down into the soils layer, making it harder, and more time-consuming, to put the fire out.”

The driest areas in Michigan currently extend from I-96 north to the Mackinac Bridge in the Lower Peninsula and from M-35 east to Drummond Island in the Upper Peninsula.

The dry area is expected to extend south to the I-94 corridor as the weekend approaches.

The Upper Peninsula has seen several large fires this week, including a 32-acre burn in the Hessel area.

Locally, the Davison-Richfield and Atlas Township fire departments extinguished a woods fire that also involved three barns early Wednesday.

The Mundy Township Fire Department responded to wildfires at the same location in the 2000 block of West Baldwin Road on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Anyone who wants to have any kind of outdoor fire should check with their local fire department first to see whether it will be allowed. People caught burning during a burn ban could face a $500 fine.

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