UPDATE 5/30/23 5:30 p.m.
Forest Fire Supervisor with the Michigan DNR, Bret Baker said campfires are legal to have in Michigan but take precautions.
“If you’re having a campfire, which they’re allowed right now, be prepared to put it out. Have water there. Make sure the water works and make sure the water always reaches your campfire. Make sure you got a rake or a shovel and make sure it’s out. Stir it, put your hand in, and make sure that it’s cold. Just don’t just put water on it and leave,” said Baker.
DNR officials are reminding people that burn permits are not being issued because of the extremely dry weather conditions.
UPDATE 5/30/23 2:30 p.m.
The DNR says fire crews are still finishing up their work after a 136-acre fire forced a Northern Michigan campground to evacuate over Memorial Day Weekend.
Cadillac DNR officers say a campfire at a home caught dry grass on fire, eventually burning more than 100 acres. The homeowner said they had put water on the fire before going inside.
The DNR says the Fife Lake Outlet Fire fueled by dry grass, leaves and pine needles. “It hasn’t been this dry before this early in the season,” said Bret Baker, fire supervisor at the Cadillac DNR office. The fire was contained by about 10 p.m. the day it started. Campers were allowed to return to Chippewa Landing Campground around 11 p.m.
5/29/23 5:45 p.m.
The Memorial Day weekend celebrations at a Northern Michigan campground were cut short after a nearby wildfire forced the evacuation of its campers. Michigan State Police confirmed that the DNR was battling a 80-acre fire that grew to 100 acres on Sunday near US-131 at the north county line in Wexford County.
The wildfire forced Michigan State Troopers to order the Chippewa Landing Campground in Manton to evacuate.
The owner of the campground says nearly 150 campers were evacuated in about an hour because first responders were concerned over a wildfire, on the other side of the river from the campground, within a half-mile.
The owner of Chippewa Landing Campground, Tom Skiver said only one family returned after the evacuation order was lifted.
“I didn’t think there was any way it was going to be contained that quickly, so I told people not to expect to be able to come back. I guess because that was the direction I was given,” said Skiver.
Skiver said it took them about an hour to evacuate close to 150 campers from his campground. He also said there were another 20 or 30 people having overnight camping trips on the river, they couldn’t reach easily.
“We talked to the fire department and the police, and they called the DNR and back and forth, back and forth, and we decided just to leave them out there. The sky was hazy and red, and they had no idea what was going on. They were a little bit nervous, but apparently not nervous enough to cut their trip short or call us and come back,” said Skiver.
After the evacuation order was lifted, only one family, the Clarks, from the Kalamazoo area returned.
“We just went out north on 131 and found a pull off a paved pull off. And we stood there and had some snacks and talked about what we were going to do. And then the fire station and police came by and told us it was all clear,” said Frank Clark.
Clark said when they got back, they realized they were the only ones there.
It was interesting. It got dark pretty quick, so we didn’t have a lot of time to explore. But it was definitely spooky walking around and no movement at all. It was about 8:30 p.m., so we just started a fire set up for dinner and went to bed,” said Clark.
After their memorable night alone, Clark said they packed up this morning and are headed back downstate, after their memorial weekend vacation. One they won’t soon forget.
“I was a little nervous at first not knowing where the fire was at, obviously, and not sure, you know, how close it was and what the timeline was for that or if it was to get here,” said Clark.
And even though they don’t know a lot about the fire, Clark said he got all the information he needed.
“I didn’t hear a lot of information other than get out and come back. And that’s all they needed to tell me,” said Clark.
No injuries have been reported and State Police officials confirm the fire was contained pretty quickly.
The owner said they were, of course, disappointed the campground had to be evacuated but said everything worked out for the best.
“We were happy they got it contained early. That was amazing. They all did a great job,” said Stiver.
Stiver said when you own a campground, you should expect the unexpected.
“When I bought it from Ricky, he told me that every weekend there’s something different, and the really is… Whether it’s rescuing people off the river or, you know, any variety of crazy things that could happen. But no, I’ve never had anything quite like this. It was something new every day.
5/28/23 8:17 p.m.
Michigan State Police have confirmed the fire has been contained.
Chippewa Landing Campground is back open. Fire crews are still on scene.
5/28/23 7:58 p.m.
Michigan State Police have tweeted that no homes are threatened due to the forest fire.
Forest service planes are gaining control of the fire.
5/28/23 7:25 p.m.
Michigan State Police confirming to 9&10 News there are two DNR planes helping to battle the flames.
5/28/23 7:15 p.m.
Michigan State Police have confirmed the Department of Natural Resources is battling an 80 acre forest fire near US-131 at North County Line.
MSP says troopers are evacuating the Chippewa Landing Campground. They are asking people to avoid the area at this time.
Northern Michigan’s News Leader will keep you updated as we learn more.