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DNR Says Wilderness Trail Fire Now 100% Contained, Roads Reopened

UPDATE 6/6/23 5:45 p.m.

The DNR says that the Wilderness Trail Fire is 100% contained and the area has reopened.

Although the area has reopened, the DNR is still 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

According to the DNR, the fire was estimated to be 2,418 acres in size.

UPDATE 6/5/23 7:40 p.m.

The Michigan DNR says that recreation areas at Kneff Lake and Staley Lake are open after being closed while firefighters battled the wildfire. They also say that railroad tracks north of 4 Mile Road have reopened to train traffic after inspection.


The DNR says that roads within the fire in Grayling Township are expected to open on Tuesday. When these roads do re-open, the DNR is asking residents and vistors to stay out of blackened areas as dead trees could pose a hazard and the ground still may be warm in some areas.

They are also asking anyone visiting the area to keep pets on leashes.

Firefighters are still on the job within the fire area to take care of any problems, so people are also being asked to drive slow and give them space to do their work.

UPDATE 6/5/23 11:30 a.m.


After three days of fighting the wildfire, crews are still working to contain the fire.

Crews have been working throughout the night and into the day today, and the fire is still 90 percent contained, officials said.

The fire started from a bonfire at a private residence around 1 p.m. on Saturday and has burned thousands of acres of forest land.

The American Red Cross says two people stayed at their emergency shelter at the Beaver Creek Township hall on Saturday.


UPDATE 6/4/23 7:35 p.m.

The Michigan DNR says 90% of the fire has been contained since 5:00 Sunday evening.

The fire remains at approximately 2,400 acres.

Preliminary estimates show that the fire threatened 35 residences, 38 vehicles including 23 campers and three boats, and 58 outbuildings. Three outbuildings were lost. This continues to be assessed as staff are able to get into the affected area.

A team of 10 firefighters from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources arrived Sunday to help the Michigan DNR and cooperating agencies battle the Wilderness Trail Fire located southeast of Grayling.

“We’re grateful for the help from our neighbors in Wisconsin as well as the support from federal, state and local fire departments, emergency management officials and law enforcement personnel,” said Mike Janisse, leader of the DNR Incident Management Team responding to the fire.

Residents and area visitors are asked to stay away from the fire area while crews continue to work. Roads in the fire perimeter remain closed.

RELATED: DNR Says Dew Point Moisture Helped Contain the Wilderness Trail Wildfire

UPDATE 6/4/23 4:12 p.m.

The Michigan DNR says the Wilderness Trail Fire is 85% contained Sunday morning after fire crews from the DNR and partner agencies worked through the night.

They say the fire started about 1:00 p.m. Saturday near Staley Lake in Grayling Township, and burned in a southwest direction through jack pine, mixed pines and oak.

The fire source was a campfire on private property.

“The crews were working in hilly, sandy terrain and that was difficult,” said Mike Janisse, Incident Commander of the Michigan DNR Incident Management Team supporting the fire. “Weather conditions also were hot, dry and windy.”

People who were evacuated from the fire area were allowed to return to their homes late Saturday.

Several local roads remain closed.

I-75, closed Saturday afternoon because of poor visibility due to smoke, reopened shortly before midnight Saturday. There is still heavy smoke in the area; drivers are asked to proceed with care.

A temporary flight restriction remains in place for a 5-mile perimeter around the fire at heights below 5,000 feet. Do not fly aircraft or drones in the area.

UPDATE 6/4/23 12:32 a.m.

The Michigan DNR provided this update on the wildfire:

“Michigan DNR fire crews continue to battle a wildfire in Crawford County, estimated at 2,400 acres currently. The Wilderness Trail Fire started around 1 p.m. about 4 miles southeast of Grayling.

Ground crews, heavy equipment, and multiple planes and helicopters are assisting at the scene. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Evacuations were initially in place, but they have since been lifted.

Individuals driving in this part of northern Michigan can expect low visibility due to smoke from the fire and are asked to drive safely. As a reminder, please stay clear of the fire area to give fire crews space needed to work on suppression efforts.

A Temporary Flight Restriction is also in place in a 5-mile perimeter around the fire, which includes prohibiting drone use. This is done to allow aircraft to operate safely in the area.

Thank you to all crews working to fight this wildfire. Among those assisting are the Michigan State Police, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Grayling Station 2, Grayling Public Safety, the Gaylord City Fire Department and fire departments from Grayling Township, Kalkaska, Blue Lake, Beaver Creek, Markey Township, Higgins Township, Richfield Township, South Branch Township, Frederic Township, Otsego County, Cold Springs and Denton Township fire departments are assisting with the fire.

As a reminder, fire danger is still extreme throughout most of Michigan. Keep this in mind and do your part to keep fires contained and give fire crews the opportunity to focus efforts on this wildfire.”

UPDATE 6/3/23 10:10 p.m.

MDOT is reporting northbound and southbound I-75 between Down River Rd Exit 256 and 4 Mile Rd Exit 251 is now open.

UPDATE 6/3/23 8:11 p.m.

The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office says first responders are still actively fighting the Grayling Township Wild Fire.

Multiple neighboring fire agencies are assisting with this fire.

I-75 remains closed both north and south bound near Grayling, MI.

The fire has burned approximately 3,600 acres as of 6:49p.m.

Power has been intentionally shut off for the safely of fire fighters working under power lines in the Grayling area.

UPDATE 6/3/23 7:52 p.m.

Officials are telling 9&10 News that evacuees can move to the Beaver Creek Township Hall if they need shelter. Grayling Middle School currently has no power.

UPDATE 6/3/23 6:59 p.m.

The Michigan DNR is now confirming the Grayling wildfire is now 1,000+ acres.

They say the wildfire is moving to the west and southwest and threatens multiple buildings. Evacuations are being conducted by emergency personnel. Shelter for evacuees is available at the Grayling Middle School gymnasium, 500 Spruce Street in Grayling, and the Beaver Creek Township Hall, 8888 S. Grayling Road.

Here are the closures in place:

  • Northbound and southbound lanes of I-75 between 4 Mile Road Exit 251 to Down River Road Exit 256 are closed.
  • Staley Lake Road from M-72 to 4 Mile Road is closed.
  • Wilderness Trail from Keystone Landing Road to Staley Lake Road is closed.
  • Staley Lake Beach and Neff Lake Beach are closed.

The Michigan DNR is reporting the wildfire has produced an abundance of smoke. Visibility may be reduced on roadways – drive with care in affected areas. They say to limit exposure to wildfire smoke by staying indoors with windows shut, especially if you have asthma or another respiratory condition.

Michigan State Police, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, South Branch Fire Department and Beaver Creek Fire Department personnel are assisting the DNR with fighting the fire.

Ground crews, heavy equipment, a Michigan State Police helicopter, and four USDA Forest Service fire boss planes and a Type 1 helicopter have been assigned to help suppress the fire. Aircraft will scoop water from Neff Lake, Shellenbarger Lake and Lake Margrethe.

The fire cause has not yet been determined.

UPDATE 6/3/23 5:41 p.m.

MDOT is confirming I-75 between Down River Rd Exit 256 and 4 Mile Rd Exit 251 is closed.

They are asking people to avoid the area.

UPDATE 6/3/23 4:39 p.m.

The Michigan DNR says evacuations are in effect for residents along Staley Lake Road located southeast of Grayling.

Residents on 4 Mile Road between I-75 and Staley Lake Road are on standby for possible evacuation.

They add aircraft from the USFS and MSP are assisting with fire suppression.

For safety, a Temporary Flight Restriction is in place for a 5-mile perimeter around the fire below 5,000 feet. All other aircraft, including drones, need to avoid the area.

Michigan State Police are assisting the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.

They say Beaver Creek Township Hall and the Grayling Middle School are accepting evacuees.

Original story 6/3/23 3:37 p.m.

The Michigan DNR and fire crews from multiple counties are battling a wildfire southeast of Grayling.

The fire is currently in the Staley Lake Road area between 1 mile south of M-72 and Wilderness Trail.

Crawford County Emergency Manager Doug Pratt has confirmed the fire is 100+ acres.

Pratt has also confirmed to 9&10 News there are evacuations going on now.

Staley Lake Road is closed from M-72 to 4 Mile, and officials are currently asking people to avoid the area.

Northern Michigan’s News Leader will have more details as soon as we learn them.

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