Fire crews around Northern Michigan remain on standby, including at the U.S. Forest Service Ranger station in Wellston.
Firefighting crews said they’ve been called out to 20 fires in just the past four days. Seth Parish, a senior Firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, said this year it’s been extremely dry.
“This is a pretty new. It hasn’t been this dry as long as I’ve been working on the forest, and I’ve been here about five years. I have not seen it this dry at this late in the year. The leaves coming out when they get green, generally, that’s a sign that there’s more moisture. However, it’s that you can see the leaves are out and the ferns are up and it’s still not stopping,” said Parish.
Parish said they’ve had to bring in extra support from the U.S. Forest Service, firefighting crews from other states.
“We have more coming from South Carolina. We just had another engine from Montana time out and they went back to Montana. One from Illinois was here. They just went back home. So, we have during the summer, we have a kind of constant rotation. When it’s less fire danger here, we’ll go out there and help them on their high fire danger,” said Parish.
Parish said what they really need is rain and a lot of it.
“We haven’t had too much when which has kind of been our kind of saving grace a little bit. We haven’t had the winds to get very to get big, devastating fires like we have the potential for. So, if we have a windy day, that’s when we’re going to be on really big high alert,” said Parish.
Parish said a little bit of rain is expected next week but with so little, it will dry quickly and then they’ll be right back to high fire danger.
Parish said that’s why it’s crucial to know how to prevent wildfires. He said 90% of forest fires are caused by people.
USDA officials said it’s important to know before you go. There’s a tool on their website where you can find out the current fire conditions in your area. You can also find a region-specific daily fire report on their website.
Parish said you should never leave a fire unattended. Also with the dry weather, it’s important to know that even the tiniest spark could start a fire.
“People dragging chains could be that flat tires could be something like rims. Faulty generators have started some, limbs over power lines, spark arrestors on ORVS, dirt bikes, and things like that. Make sure their spark arrests are up to snuff and things like that,” said Parish.