“It is late April and early May when we usually experience our greatest threat of large and destructive fires,” said Lynne Boyd, chief of the DNR Forest Management Division. “Many people don’t realize that most of Michigan’s wildfires occur during the spring and that more than 90 percent of Michigan’s wildfires are human-caused.”
“Increased outdoor activity and a forest overflowing with flammable leaves, needles and dead grass is a cause for everyone’s concern each year,” Boyd added. “Combine warm, windy days with more people engaging in activities outdoors and the risk of wildfire swells significantly.”
As in past years, careless debris burning is the source of most wildfires across Michigan. It makes it all the more important to take the time to plan any burning activity before you light a match.
Paul Kollmeyer, DNR fire prevention specialist, reminds residents that burning brush legally in the state of Michigan requires a burn permit. In the Northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula burners can obtain a free DNR burn permit online at www.michigan.gov/burnpermit. Persons without internet access can call toll-free at 866-922-2876. In southern Michigan, burn permits and information on burning can be obtained from local fire departments and township offices.
Spring outdoor activities many times include cooking and campfires. Without proper precaution these fires can escape causing a wildfire. The following tips can help prevent a fire from escaping:
- Clear away flammable material surrounding the fire so it won’t creep into dry vegetation.
- Keep campfires small, and do not leave before they are extinguished.
- 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 simply smolder before coming back to life.
- Consider composting or mulching yard debris rather than burning it.
“By considering these few simple tips, the public can do its part by exercising great caution when burning brush, leaves or enjoying a campfire this spring,” Kollmeyer said.
For more information on wildfire prevention in Michigan, including information on how to be a “firewise” property owner, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr-fire.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.