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Wilderness Trail Fire is 100% contained, area reopens

Fire crews continued putting out hot spots within the Wilderness Trail Fire burn area Tuesday as local roads reopened. The fire, estimated at 2,418 acres in size, is now 100% contained.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking people to stay away from the area in Crawford County’s Grayling Township to give fire crews space to finish their work.

“We know it is interesting to see and that people are curious, but we want to make sure we have the room to get our work done safely,” said Mike Janisse, commander of the DNR Incident Management Team that has been assisting with the fire. “Driving on the dry roads creates a great deal of dust, which makes for poor visibility.” Roads also are narrow and there is little room for passing.

The fire started about 1 p.m. Saturday near Staley Lake, escaping from a campfire on private property. The fire quickly burned in a southwest direction through jack pine, mixed pine and oak in hilly, sandy terrain. The fire caused the evacuation of about 300 people until around 11 p.m. Saturday and closed I-75 in both directions Saturday afternoon and evening.

DNR ground crews working on the fire were assisted by many local agencies and air support including water-bearing planes and helicopters from the USDA Forest Service and the Michigan State Police.

Fire danger remains very high to extreme across the state. The DNR is not issuing permits for open burning at this time. If you must build a campfire or cooking fire, keep a close eye on it at all times and keep it small. Make sure you drench it with water, stir and drench again until it is cold to the touch before leaving it.

DNR firefighters statewide have fought more than two dozen fires in the past week.

Note to editors: Accompanying photos and resources are available below; caption information follows.

  • Black and green landscape: Blackened areas and green vegetation are visible after the Wilderness Trail Fire in northern lower Michigan.
  • Fire danger map: Great Lakes Fire and Fuels map displaying current fire danger conditions. Much of Michigan is experiencing extreme fire danger.
  • DNR Twitter account: Find fire response updates and fire safety information.