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Fall fire tips
October 21, 2022
Pull your boots and flannels out of the closet – it’s campfire season! But be sure to brush up on our burning tips before lighting that brush pile in the backyard. DNR firefighters have responded to more than 215 fires so far this year.
Whenever you burn, have a shovel and water source nearby, and never leave a fire unattended. Avoid burning on a windy day when hot embers can be whisked up by the wind into dry grasses or leaves.
Burning yard waste? Remember to check for a burn permit to see if conditions are safe for burning, and know your local fire ordinances. Most wildfires are started by people burning yard clippings and leaves. You’ll need a burn permit anytime the ground is not covered in snow.
Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula residents can view conditions at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit or call 866-922-BURN. Southern Michigan residents should check with their local municipality or fire department.
Well-dried wood is the most efficient for your wood stove or campfire, burning more cleanly and releasing less irritating smoke than poorly-seasoned wood.
The U.S. EPA’s Burn Wise efficiency program recommends drying cut wood in an airy, covered location for at least six months. Check your fuel using a moisture meter tool, waiting to burn until moisture content clocks in at 20% or less. Dry logs should feel light when lifted and produce a hollow sound when thumped together.
Burning of trash, plastic and hazardous materials is never allowed, and can cause health issues. Safely recycle or responsibly dispose of these materials.
Burning isn’t always the best way
Many folks burn leaves and brush in the fall, but did you know you can repurpose fallen leaves? No fire required!
Dead leaves are a great free mulch that will insulate perennial plants and keep garden soil from washing away in the rain. They can also be raked up into a bin or pile to turn into nutrient-rich compost. Learn how with composting tips from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.
In addition to helping out your garden, fallen leaves serve as winter habitat for wildlife. Turtles, toads, salamanders, moths and butterflies all spend the winter snuggled under leaves. An easy way to keep your area neat and provide habitat is to rake leaves under bushes and shrubs in your yard or provide a “wild area” where leaves can break down naturally.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be set to enjoy a fall season filled with campfires, hot cider and stargazing. Find more information on safe burning at Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires.