Keep an eye on fire weather danger as humidity drops, wind speeds increase this weekend

Contact: Paul Rogers, 517-284-5872
Agency: Natural Resources

July 6, 2018

As Independence Day holiday celebrations continue throughout the coming weekend, the public is encouraged to put fire safety first. Fire weather danger is expected to be particularly high Saturday and Sunday, with increased wind speeds and low humidity in the forecast. 

The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather warning for today, July 6, in the northern Lower Peninsula. The warning may continue throughout the weekend as dry conditions build. Warnings are issued when wind speeds, temperatures, humidity levels and fuel conditions combine to make ideal wildfire conditions. 

Although not under a warning yet, the eastern Upper Peninsula east of M-35 also is dry and conditions may change. No rain is predicted for the area until late next week. Burn permits in some areas are restricted until conditions allow for safe burning. 

“It doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,” said DNR fire prevention specialist Paul Rogers. “Hot embers buried in ashes can flame up days after a campfire has been put ‘out.’ Even small fireworks like sparklers are hot enough to spark a fire if they’re not disposed of properly.” 

Thumbnail image from a Michigan DNR video that humorously addresses the need for thorough dousing of campfires, especially during high danger times.

The DNR’s message of fire safety is clear in this brief video (“Smokey’s Campfire Safety Competition”), in which three campers are judged on their fire-dousing skills. This U.S. Forest Service video echoes that simple safety sentiment by encouraging everyone to “make it your goal to extinguish hot coals.”

Rogers said that most wildfires in Michigan are caused by people. “As of July 2, the DNR so far this year has responded to 213 wildfires on 1,049 acres,” he said. “Nearly half of those were caused by debris burning, campfires and fireworks.

Those planning to have fires should keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Keep your fire small and manageable (no larger than 3 feet high and 3 feet wide).
  • Build your fire in a fire ring or on mineral soil.
  • Always keep a shovel, metal bucket and water source nearby.
  • When finished with your fire, douse it thoroughly with water, stir the ashes and douse again. Repeat until cool.
  • Your fire should be at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or debris. Be sure that no branches are hanging overhead.
  • If you plan to burn yard debris, check for burn permits in your area.

Learn more about the DNR’s wildfire program, burn permits, daily fire dangers rating and other information on the DNR website michigan.gov/firemanagement.  

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.