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Lightning caused 2,300-acre Blue Lakes Fire in Montmorency, Cheboygan counties; now estimated at 30% containment

Smoke and a local lake are seen in a spotter plane image

Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters and local partners are continuing efforts to contain the Blue Lakes Fire in Montmorency and Cheboygan counties. As of 11 a.m. Saturday, the fire covered an estimated 2,300 acres and is roughly 30% contained.

Evacuations have occurred at the Black River Ranch, where 12 structures are threatened.

Elsewhere in the fire area, an outbuilding, a shed, was reported a loss. One privately owned vehicle was also damaged.

DNR spokesperson Kerry Heckman said one department firefighter sustained a minor injury and has received medical treatment, and that a group of kayakers on the Black River within the fire area was escorted to safety by a DNR conservation officer. Firefighter safety and public safety are the DNR’s top priority on a wildfire.

“We are grateful to report no life-threatening injuries and no serious property damage, as everyone on the scene gives their best effort to suppress this fire,” Heckman said. “Thank you to everyone who has followed reports and steered clear of this area.”

The cause of the fire, detected Friday afternoon, has been determined to be a lightning strike, likely from a May 11 thunderstorm.

DNR fire staffers gather for a briefing and orders

Road/river closures

Road closures remain in effect and have been expanded to protect public safety and accommodate fire suppression efforts.

Current closures include:

  • East Branch Road and Black River Road between 622 and Canada Creek Road.
  • Clark Bridge Road between Black River Road and Osmun Road.
  • Blue Lakes Road between Hardwood Lake Road and East Branch Road.
  • Black River Road between Blue Lakes Road and the Meridian Line Road and 622 intersection.

The Black River between Blue Lakes Road and Clark Bridge Road also remains closed.

The DNR has 43 firefighters, a 13-member incident management team and a spotter plane responding. They are assisted by six U.S. Forest Service firefighters and a hand crew, as well as six local fire departments.

Tri Township EMS, Cheboygan EMS, Michigan State Police, the DNR Law Enforcement Division, Montmorency County Emergency Management and the Montmorency County Sheriff also are assisting.

Fire danger remains high

Fire danger remains very high in the Lower Peninsula and high in the Upper Peninsula. Due to increased risk, the DNR has not conducted prescribed burns in the past week and has not been issuing burn permits. Before any open burning, check and get fire safety tips at

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

  • Fire map: Map showing fire boundaries on Saturday, May 14.
  • Spotter plane image: Smoke from the Blue Lakes Fire over Silver Lake is visible in a spotter plane image. 
  • DNR crew: DNR firefighters receive morning briefing Saturday before beginning fire suppression efforts.
  • Communications equipment: A communications booster is used to assist crews with cell phone and radio communications in the remote fire area.
Contact: Kerry Heckman, 517-643-1256 or Tim Webb, 231-649-2880