The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today offered this update on the Duck Lake Fire in the Upper Peninsula’s Luce County.
The fire is now 21,114 acres in size, having grown slightly overnight. 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. The fire area includes 6 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and 29.5 miles of uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.
Good progress was made yesterday in securing portions of fire perimeter especially along the northwest flank from Lake Superior south to County Road 414 and along the west and east flanks at the south end of the fire.
North of Pike Lake the fire has extended east to County Road 500, with the fire crossing the county 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. Air water drops have knocked down hot spots from Little Lake Harbor south to Culhane Lake. Structure protection is high priority and is being closely monitored from the air. The entire east flank from Little Lake Harbor south is active and with expected westerly/northwesterly winds, extreme fire conditions persist. Flame lengths within the fire perimeter are still 10 feet to 15 feet. Potential for blow-up conditions continue.
A DNR engine and seven Volunteer Fire Department engines worked through the night to protect and monitor structures. Luce County Emergency Management and Michigan Conservation Officers worked through the night to assess damage to private structures.
Today’s fire suppression activities will focus on extending already secure fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks; south from County Road 414 along the west flank; and further secure lines around Little Lake Harbor and Pike Lake structures. Air tankers and the helicopter will be focusing efforts on the segment of the east flank near Little Lake Harbor and Pike Lake.
An evacuation order is 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. County Road 414 to County Road 410 and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor are closed. Please do not enter the area.
A number of structures have been damaged or lost and the Luce County Emergency Management Team, DNR conservation officers, and firefighters will continue to access damage. Tahquamenon Falls State Park has been closed and campers have been directed to other facilities. Campground reservations will not be taken until May 31 at the earliest.
A total of 101 firefighters are battling the blaze. The following individuals and equipment are involved in the firefighting efforts:
o 5 to 7 Conservation Officers on duty around the clock. o Volunteer fire departments: Bay Mills, Garfield Township, Columbus Township, Portage Township, Whitefish Township, Superior Township, Village of Newberry, Seney Township o 10 DNR fire engines, 7 volunteer fire department engines, 2 VFW fire department water tankers, 3 Wisconsin DNR engines. o 10 Michigan DNR bulldozers and 2 Wisconsin DNR bulldozers o 1 US Fish & Wildlife Service helicopter o 2 Minnesota DNR Air Tankers o 4 Michigan National Guard aircraft and ground support are expected to arrive by noon today, following Gov. Rick Snyder’s order to activate the National Guard in Luce and Schoolcraft counties.
Cooperating agencies include the Michigan State Police, Luce County Sherriff’s Department, Red Cross, Michigan State Police Emergency Management, Luce County Emergency Management, Michigan National Guard, Wisconsin DNR and the Minnesota DNR.
Today the winds are expected to be from the south/southeast at 5 to 10 miles per hour, with potential gusts up to 15 miles per hour. The winds are expected to shift to the northeast this afternoon, which may cause increased activity in other sectors of the fire. The temperatures are expected to rise into the low 60’s with relative humidities of 30 percent to 40 percent.
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. Roughly 20 percent of the fire area is contained. Calmer winds that are expected today will aid progress in securing additional fire control lines. On May 25, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in 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, in order to minimize the possibility of more wildfires. For wildfire prevention tips, information and home protection ideas, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.
For more information on the Duck Lake Fire situation, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr (where you can sign up for wildfire incident updates via email) or follow www.twitter.com/michiganDNR, www.twitter.com/michiganDNR_UP or www.facebook.com/miDNR.