Near-drought conditions in some areas spark concerns…
As residents and out-of-state visitors prepare to camp, bike and hike throughout Michigan over the Fourth of July holiday season, Department of Natural Resources officials warn that wildfire danger will vary greatly in different areas of the state and urge caution and common sense, accordingly, with fireworks and campfires.
Summer heat and inconsistent rainfall in the past month have pushed parts of Michigan into emerging drought conditions in the south, while portions of the northern regions have received some beneficial moisture – temporarily moderating what has already been a severe fire season.
So far this year, the DNR has responded to 339fires that have burned a total of 23,122 acres– including the recent 21,069-acre Duck Lake Fire in the eastern Upper Peninsula.
“Anytime the weather is consistently hot and dry during a holiday period, there is a potential for wildfires,” said Bill O’Neill, acting chief of the DNR’s ForestResources Division. “With so many visitors in the woodlands and campgrounds, the chances of a wildfire igniting greatly increase.”
Forecasts from the National Weather Service back up the DNR’s concerns. Although a slight cold front is expected to move through Thursday night into Friday morning, witha chance of storms, the coverage and amounts will be quite limited. At this time, the National Weather Service does not see a significant chance of beneficial rains through the next 10 days in Michigan.
The DNR’s O’Neill urged Michigan citizens and visitors to be extremely careful when handling fireworks and outdoor fires. He offered the following reminders:
Remember that consumer fireworks that explode or fly into the air, when improperly used, are the cause of many wildfires each year. These types of fireworks can now be purchased in Michigan. Be aware that fireworks will easily ignite grass or wooded areas and should only be lit in areas free of vegetation. Understand that setting off fireworks on public property is prohibited without proper authorization.