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Wildfire risk remains extreme

April 30, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

It appears this spring is going to continue without much rain, which will extend the wildfire season much longer than usual.

The season also started earlier than normal and the early snowmelt has already been washed through the local river systems.

The danger of wildfire is evident across the Upper Peninsula including around the Copper Country with recent grass fires near and in Houghton, Chassell, Toivola and Bootjack.

Dry vegetation and high winds quickly fanned the fires, which were extinguished by firefighters from various local fire departments and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Trout anglers who were out in the woods on area streams over opening weekend of fishing season also reported extremely low water levels for this time of year.

Residents of the region should take serious note of the dry conditions and adjust their outdoor activities appropriately.

Any potential source of fire should be handled very carefully, including campfires, grills, smoking materials and even motor vehicles. Motor vehicles may be a surprise as a fire source to some people, but hot exhaust pipes can cause a wildfire if the vehicle is parked over a patch of dry grass or other dry vegetation.

As far as open debris burning goes - forget about it. All open burning of such things as limbs, brush, stumps, evergreen needles, leaves and grass require a free burning permit from the DNRE. The permits are currently not being issued across the entire U.P., as well as a good share of the entire state.

In regard to campfires, which many people will be looking forward to enjoying as camping gets into high gear across the U.P., the state offers the following safety tips:

Keep campfires small and do not leave before they are extinguished.

Clear away flammable material surrounding the fire so it can't creep into dry vegetation.

Be sure and douse with plenty of water, stir and add more water until everything is wet.

Turn over unburned pieces and wet the underside.

Do not just cover a campfire with soil, it may smolder before coming back to life.

Since the majority of wildfires are caused by residents and visitors to the region, everyone should be as careful as possible with fire sources during these extremely dry times.



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