Use caution with outdoor fires: MI

Article Posted: April 25, 2003

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Use caution with outdoor fires

Michigan firefighters today reminded residents that the sporadic warm weather throughout much of the state has created high fire danger in many parts of Michigan, and they urge everyone to exercise caution when camping or burning debris.

Department of Natural Resources and US Forest Service firefighters already have responded to 195 wildfires that burned 3,171 acres this spring. More than 13 structures have been destroyed by wildfires, and several more were damaged.

“We strongly caution everyone to be careful with debris fires and campfires this week," said Mindy Koch, Forest, Mineral, and Fire Management Chief. “Be sure to obtain a burn permit before doing any outdoor burning.”

The DNR recommends using extreme safety precautions for any outdoor burning, including: Always be sure your debris fire and/or campfire is completely extinguished before leaving it unattended. Be sure to use plenty of water to extinguish your fire and wet everything thoroughly, especially the undersides of unburned pieces. Stir the ashes to find any remaining hot spots, and douse them with more water. Do not simply bury your fire with soil. In most cases, this will not extinguish the fire. Have a garden hose nearby in case your fire begins to escape. If your fire escapes your control, call for help immediately.

Improperly extinguished fires are one of the leading reasons campfires and debris fires escape control. Even small fires can be destructive. A fire in Allegan County that destroyed two garages, a boat and trailer last week was less than one acre in size.

A burn permit is required before doing any outdoor burning, and is issued only for burning leaves, brush or stumps. Burning of other materials is prohibited. Burn permits can be obtained from the DNR or USDA Forest Service in the Upper and Northern Lower Peninsulas. Local units of government and fire departments issue burn permits in Southern Michigan. During periods of high fire danger, permits may be restricted, or not issued at all. “Calling for a burn permit is also the best way to get up-to-date fire danger information,” said Koch. Information on where to obtain a burn permit, the latest fire statistics and wildfire safety can be obtained from the DNR Website at

Also, for those who enjoy sitting around a campfire, there is a new concern this year. The Emerald Ash Borer is a new exotic pest found in Southeast Michigan that quickly kills ash trees. Firewood infested with this, and other exotic insects and diseases, can spread the pest across the state. Campers and visitors to Michigan’s state parks and forests are reminded to avoid transporting firewood, as this may transport insects and diseases that threaten Michigan’s trees and forests. Use local sources of firewood instead. For more information, visit the state’s Emerald Ash Borer Website at

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