LANSING – Warm, sunny spring days across most of Michigan last week have sparked people’s interest in outdoor fun, but warmer weather also stokes wildfire danger, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
DNR officials say to make fire safety a top priority when working in the yard, riding all-terrain vehicles or building an evening bonfire.
Fire danger is highest across the northern Lower Peninsula and in parts of the Upper Peninsula, said Jeff Vasher, fire specialist with the DNR.
“Humidity is low, so the environment is drying out fast,” Vasher said. “A fire can take off with very little warning in these kinds of conditions, especially if it’s windy at all.”
Vasher said some parts of the Upper Peninsula still have melting snow, but those that don’t also are drying fast. Fire danger is expected to remain elevated throughout the weekend.
Before burning yard debris or lighting any fire, check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit to make sure weather conditions allow for safe burning. In southern Lower Peninsula communities, consult local fire authorities.
According to the DNR, nine out of 10 wildland fires are caused by people, and yard waste burning is the top cause of wildfires in Michigan.
Here are tips to keep your outdoor activities fire-safe:
• 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.
• Use a burn barrel with a screen on top to burn paper, leaves and natural materials.
Since the beginning of fire season in March, DNR wildland firefighters have fought more than 82 fires covering a total of more than 600 acres. The DNR has a goal of keeping as many wildfires fires as possible under 10 acres.