The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today offered an updated assessment and details of properties lost in the Upper Peninsula’s Duck Lake Fire.
Thus far, 100 properties have been inspected for possible damage. Inspections are ongoing, and the entire fire has not been inspected. Of the 100 properties inspected, 31 properties have suffered losses. On the 31 properties that suffered losses – some with multiple structures — 95 structures were lost. Those include:
• 34 homes/cabins • 22 garages • 20 sheds/outbuildings • 17 campers • 1 store • 1 motel
Property damage assessment will continue today. Concerned property owners should phone 211 (Upper Peninsula residents) and 1-800-338-1119 (all others) to register their structure location and contact information. As the structure inventory and damage assessment are completed, the involved parties will be contacted and informed of the status of their properties.
Luce County Emergency Management on Sunday provided landowner site visits for homeowners in the Pike Lake and Little Lake Harbor areas. This was an opportunity to quickly visit their homes to see the status for themselves. For the general public, all road closures remain in effect until further notice. No road reopening schedule has been determined due to ongoing fire issues and aircraft suppression efforts. County Road 414 east from the intersection with County Road 410, and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor are closed. Please do not enter the area.
An evacuation order remains in effect for the area from Pike Lake east to County Road 500 and north to Little Lake Harbor. Residents are advised to be vigilant and evacuate.
The most recent GPS data estimate the fire size at 22,204 acres. The fire is 51 percent contained. The fire made some runs yesterday, and additional GPS data became available that resulted in a slight upwards revision of the fire size. The estimated cost of fighting the fire to date is $450,557.
The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. There are currently 40 miles of fire line. Of that fire line, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (includes County Road 500), and 21 miles is uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.
A warm front moving through this morning will bring some rain which is expected to clear by noon. Temperatures in the low 70s and a relative humidity of 50 percent or greater are expected.
Yesterday, firefighters made progress in securing portions of the fire perimeter, especially along the northwest flank from Lake Superior south to County Road 414 and at the south end (heel) of the fire. The fire line has been extended well south of County Road 410.
North of Pike Lake the fire has extended east to County Road 500, with the fire crossing the road in one location. Fire lines in this area are currently holding. South of Pike Lake the fire is well west of County Road 500. Structure protection is a high priority and is being closely monitored from the air.
The entire east side of the fire, from Little Lake Harbor south, is active and with expected westerly/southwesterly winds, extreme fire conditions persist. Flame lengths within the fire perimeter are still 10 to 15 feet. Potential for blow-up conditions continue. So far, 9 miles of the 31-mile-long perimeter has secure line built. Twenty-two miles of fire line remain to be built.
Three VFD fire engines patrolled the lines during the night and continued suppression of hot spots.
Today’s incident objectives are to:
• Provide for public and firefighter safety • Provide for structure protection • Keep fire north of M-123 • Keep fire in vicinity of County Road 500 • Hold fire inside constructed dozer line on northwest flank • Hold fire inside burnout operations on the northeast flank • Continue to work on securing fire line at the marsh • Continue collecting GPS data on completed line.
Today, fire crews will focus on mopping up and securing the west side of Pike Lake, an area of heavy duff fuels. Structure protection is a priority in this area. A hand crew that arrived last night will be working in this area today. Crews will work to hold the existing secure line, fortify the established line put in yesterday, and extend fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks.
A burn-out operation was conducted Saturday to create black line along County Road 500 on the northeast flank. This area will be monitored and mopped up where needed to secure this portion of the flank. Air operations today will focus on the east and southwest flanks and structure protection.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s lower falls campground, upper falls viewing area, and visitor center have been closed due to smoke concerns. Please do not visit the park.
A total of 214 personnel (of which 45 are overhead personnel) are involved with fire suppression efforts. People and agencies involved include:
• Three Conservation Officers on duty around the clock. • Volunteer fire departments: Bay Mills, Garfield Township, Columbus Township, Portage Township, Whitefish Township, Superior Township, Village of Newberry, and Kinross Township. • 16 DNR fire engines, 8 volunteer fire department engines, 2 VFD fire department water tankers, 3 Wisconsin DNR engines. • 11 Michigan DNR and 2 Wisconsin DNR bulldozers • 1 US Fish & Wildlife Service Helicopter • 2 Minnesota DNR Air Tankers • 4 Michigan National Guard aircraft and ground support.
Agencies cooperating in the firefighting effort include the Michigan State Police, Luce County Sherriff’s Department, Michigan State Police Emergency Management, Luce County Emergency Management, Michigan National Guard, Wisconsin DNR, Minnesota DNR, Chippewa County Sheriff Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Red Cross and Salvation Army.
It is essential that the public realize and respect the extreme danger this fire poses to especially areas east of the entire 10-mile-long east flank.
A special note of thanks: The Duck Lake Fire staff and DNR would like to express their gratitude for the outpouring of support from Newberry, Luce County and the entire region. The numerous citizens lining the streets of Newberry to welcome the fire crews back after a long hard day of fighting fire on the lines is very much appreciated. The Red Cross has also been inundated with donations of food, clothes, Gatorade, and water for both the evacuees and fire staff. The firefighters would especially like to thank all of the Tahquamenon Area Girl Scout Troops for donating $300 from their newspaper and magazine recycling project to provide snacks and goodies for the fire staff while they are out on the fire line. A special thanks also to Snyder Drugs for working with the troops to provide the snacks to the firefighters.
On May 25, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in the Luce and Schoolcraft counties. The declaration permits authorities to evacuate residents, and establishes a fireworks ban in the two affected counties and an outdoor burning ban in 49 counties:
Alcona, Alger, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Baraga, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Clare, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Gladwin, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Iosco, Iron, Isabella, Kalkaska, Keweenaw, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Manistee, Marquette, Mason, Mecosta, Menominee, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Schoolcraft and Wexford.
The DNR strongly encourages all residents and visitors in all parts of the state to avoid open burning and use of any fireworks during this extremely high fire-danger season to minimize the possibility of more wildfires. For wildfire prevention tips, and for information on what is and is not permissible under the outdoor burning ban, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.
For more the most up-to-date information on the Duck Lake Fire situation, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr (where you can sign up for wildfire incident updates via email or text message) or follow www.twitter.com/michiganDNR, www.twitter.com/michiganDNR_UP or www.facebook.com/miDNR (where photos from the scene of the fire and of community support in Newberry are posted).