Weather assists wildfire crews
NEWBERRY – The third largest wildfire in Michigan history is now 76 percent contained, according to DNR officials. The Duck Lake Fire, started by a lightning strike on May 24, has burned through more than 21,000 acres in Luce County.
In the latest press release from the DNR, officials rank the Duck Lake Fire behind the 25,000 acre Mack Lake Fire in 1980, as well as the 72,000 acre Seney Fire in 1976. Recent bouts of wet weather have significantly aided fire crews in their attempts to contain the fire, according to DNR officials.
As of Tuesday, the total number of structures lost is 136, including: 49 cabins/ homes (including a store and motel), 23 garages, 38 sheds/outbuildings, and 26 campers. Resources being utilized at the fire scene include: 156 personnel, 16 engines, 5 bulldozers, 4 hand crews, and 1 fixed-wing Cessna 182 aircraft.
According to the American Red Cross, its organization, as well as the Salvation Army and local community groups have been providing support during the fire. Two Red Cross staff members and 22 volunteers from Michigan and Illinois were also deployed to serve fire victims, as well as a “high tech communication vehicle” from Chicago and two “mobile support vehicles” from Flint and Lansing.
Gov. Rick Snyder and Sen. Debbie Stabenow visited the fire area on May 31, taking time to talk with residents who lost structures in the fire, as well as expressing thanks to the firefighters for their efforts.
On Tuesday, areas of Tahquamenon Falls State Park, north of M-123, previously closed due to proximity to the fire, reopened to the public, according to the DNR. This included hiking trails north of M-123, Stables Picnic Area, and Betsy Lake Natural Area, all of which have been closed since May 25.
The DNR announced that Pike Lake, Bodi Lake, Culhane Lake and Little Lake, also closed due to the fire, opened to evacuated residents and property owners on June 2.
Cooperating agencies include: Michigan State Police, Luce County Sherriff’s Department, Red Cross, Luce County Emergency Management, Wisconsin DNR, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Beartown. County Road 414 east from the intersection with County Road 410 and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor remain closed to the general public, according to the DNR. The Two Hearted ORV trail is closed east of County Road 414.
The DNR also lifted a temporary flight restriction over the Duck Lake Fire on June 4. Fire crews continue to finish fire line construction toward division breaks, work with other agencies to facilitate damage assessment to resources and recreation areas, and grid for hot spots and mop-up 200 feet inside the fire line, DNR officials stated.
Another wildfire, the Pine Creek North Wildfire, is now considered 100 percent contained, according to Jennifer McDonough, visitor services representative with the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. The fire, which burned approximately 3,400 acres, received about an inch of rain in its last days, assisting fire crews gain control over the blaze. USFWS personnel will continue to monitor the fire perimeter until it is determined the fire is fully out, added McDonough.
The refuge fishing loop reopened on June 2, along with hiking and bicycling on all interior roads except for the north section of Pine Creek Road.