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Firefighters knock back 105-acre fire in jack pines near Grayling

May 22, 2020

Firefighters attack M72 blaze A total of about 70 homes near Grayling were evacuated Thursday as firefighters battled a fire in privately owned jack pine stands in Crawford County, Michigan. The M-72 Fire, estimated at about 105 acres, was reported at approximately 5 p.m. along M-72 between Stephan Bridge Road and S. Horseshoe Trail, about 8 miles east of Grayling. The fire, which burned a swath about 1 mile long and 0.2 miles wide, was contained around 8:30 p.m. Evacuated residents were able to return to their homes shortly after 9 p.m. Two outbuildings were destroyed.

Despite recent rain in the northern Lower Peninsula, after a few days of dry conditions, sunny skies and warmer temperatures, the fire danger in Grayling was high Thursday. Jack pine is one of the most prevalent tree species in the Grayling area and its seeds are released by fire, making it very fire-prone. It was this combination of weather and fuels that led to the M-72 Fire.

Multiple agencies cooperated to contain the fire:

  • The U.S. Forest Service provided critical air and ground support to DNR personnel. Air operations included four U.S. Forest Service Fire Bosses (single-engine air tankers), one U.S. Forest Service fixed-wing "Air Attack" aircraft, two U.S. Forest Service helicopters and a DNR spotter (detection) plane.
  • Ground operations consisted of 20 DNR firefighters, U.S. Forest Service firefighters and Grayling, South Branch, Beaver Creek and Frederic township fire departments.
  • Law enforcement also assisted, including the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Grayling City Police, Michigan State Police, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and DNR conservation officers. Fire crews will continue fire suppression and mop-up efforts throughout the day today.

The cause of the fire is unknown and is currently under investigation.

Take precautions against fire

Fire risk is expected to be elevated today and Monday in parts of the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. The DNR reminds everyone to take precautions while doing yard work and engaging in outdoor activities this spring.

  • Get a burn permit at and check local weather and fire danger before burning debris.
  • Burn debris in barrels with metal screens, if possible.
  • Clear any vegetation around your burn area.
  • Make sure to have a source of water nearby whenever you burn.
  • Stay with a fire until it is completely extinguished.

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

M-72 Fire Flames: Smoke billows from an approximately 105-acre fire in a primarily jack pine forest near Grayling Thursday. DNR, federal and local firefighters knocked back the blaze, which caused evacuation of about 70 homes. 

M-72 Fire Plane: Several planes, including this U.S. Forest Service Fire Boss, were used to dump water on the approximately 105-acre fire that broke out in a privately owned jack pine forest near Grayling Thursday./