Firefighters contain ‘County Road 601’ wildfire 100 percent

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) firefighters – with the help of additional firefighting units – have built a fire line around the entire perimeter of an 80-acre wildfire that broke out in Marquette County’s Humboldt Township Thursday afternoon, July 30.

“We’ve got it 100 percent contained and we’re working 50 to 100 feet in from the edges,” DNR incident commander Pete Glover said Saturday afternoon. “We are making good progress today.”

Crews work from the fire line toward the center of the fire area, with foam and water, to “mop up” remaining hot spots.

DNR crews anticipated being solidly 100 feet in from the edge of the fire line by the end of the day Saturday, Aug. 1. To date:

  • No injuries have been reported.
  • No structures have been damaged.
  • The cause of the blaze remains undetermined and is being investigated by DNR staff.
  • No new hotspots have been found outside the fire line.

The fire was reported at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, burning in an area where crews logged pulpwood last winter. Many piles of cut pulpwood remained on site, creating a good source of fuel for the fire.

By Friday morning, many of those log piles had been consumed by the intense heat of the fire.

Glover said some of the remaining remnants of the piles, still hot, were being busted up Saturday. Overnight, higher relative humidity was then expected to work to help diminish the remaining heat from the burning wood.

National Weather Service forecasters in Negaunee Township predicted a 20-percent chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms Saturday night, with a 70-percent chance of precipitation Sunday.

Forecasters said new rainfall amounts between a tenth and a quarter of an inch were expected, with higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

“Cooler temperatures and greater moisture will have a positive impact on fire weather, at least somewhat lowering concerns,” forecasters said in a briefing.

The chance of showers and thunderstorms in Marquette County drops to 30 percent Sunday night and 20 percent Monday.

Glover said a best-case forecast for firefighters would be moderate amounts of rainfall over the next several days, but those conditions were not expected.

Lightning strikes from thunderstorms also can pose the danger of igniting new wildfires.

Crews from the DNR and Wisconsin firefighters from Mellen and Waupaca remained on the scene Saturday and the Humboldt Township Fire Department continued to shuttle water. Firefighters continued to get water for the fire from the Humboldt Mill, which is located not far from the fire area.

Firefighters from the Republic, Ishpeming and Champion townships’ volunteer fire departments worked on the fire Thursday and Friday, but were no longer on the fire scene Saturday afternoon.

“They are making progress, but ground fire takes a lot of effort to put out and 80 acres is a large area,” said Celeste Chingwa, DNR Upper Peninsula fire protection manager in Marquette. “This fire may burn in fuel pockets below the surface if conditions don’t change, so it will need constant monitoring.”

Glover said work on the fire was expected to stop at about 8 p.m. Saturday. One engine crew would patrol the fire area overnight. Fire crews also monitored the fire Thursday and Friday nights.

Efforts to mop up the fire are expected to continue for several days, depending on the weather.

“It’s not unusual for us to work on a fire for several weeks after it’s been contained,” Glover said.

The fire area is situated about 4 miles northeast of Republic, south of Marquette County Road 601 and southwest of the Black River.