Article Posted: April 13, 2002

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LANSING--State Wildfire officials today announced April 14 -
20 is Wildfire Prevention Week in Michigan, stressing that
thoughtful activity by humans is critical to preventing
wildfires during the spring season.
Michigan Department of Natural Resource officials report
more than 90 percent of Michigan wildfires are human-caused.
More than a third involve people burning debris.
"Michigan's forests contribute significantly to quality of
life values shared by millions of residents and
nonresidents, so our collective efforts to prevent unwanted,
human-caused wildfires are important," said Mindy Koch, DNR
Forest, Mineral, & Fire Management Division Chief. "More and
more people live in rural areas surrounded by fire-prone
vegetation. Preventing wildfires in these areas is a
critical public safety issue."
The economic value that Michigan forests contribute-in the
form of travel, tourism, hunting, fishing, all forms of
recreation, and timber-related products-is an estimated
200,000 jobs and $12 billion annually.
Koch reminded residents to use caution when burning yard and
household debris, and to always obtain a burn permit before
doing any outdoor burning.
"Obtaining a permit is the best way to get the latest
information on fire danger and outdoor fire safety," said
Koch. "When burn permits are not being issued, it is because
outdoor burning would be unsafe."
Permits can be obtained from the DNR or the USDA Forest
Service in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.
Local units of government and fire departments issue burn
permits in southern Michigan. A list of contacts for
obtaining a permit can be found on the DNR Web site at
If your fire escapes, you may be held liable for any damages
and all costs of controlling the fire.
The DNR recommends the following safety precautions for any
outdoor burning:
* Never leave an outdoor campfire or debris fire unattended,
even for a moment.
* Have water available in case your fire begins to escape.
If your fire does escape, call for help immediately.
* Always be sure your debris fire and/or campfire is
completely extinguished before leaving it unattended.
Improperly extinguished fires are one of the leading causes
of wildfires. They also are a major cause of burns among
children. Hundreds of children are burned each year when
they fall into or walk over an improperly extinguished fire.
* Drown your fire with plenty of water. Wet everything
thoroughly, especially the undersides of unburned pieces.
Stir the ashes to find any hot spots (you'll see and hear
steam escape when you find one), and wet everything again
with more water.
* Do not simply bury your fire with soil. In most cases this
will not extinguish the fire, and it will not protect
children against being burned if they fall or walk into it.
Up-to-date information on wildfire safety, how you can
protect your home from wildfire, and the latest fire
statistics can be obtained from the DNR's Web site.

Source: MDNR

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