Wildfire season is starting early in Michigan, thanks to a mild winter

Seney Fire. (Photo: Dave Kenyon/Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

By Michigan Advance

March 7, 2024


Firefighters for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are preparing for an early fire season, following last year’s hot, dry conditions and the mild conditions this winter.

DNR firefighters responded to nearly 400 wildfires in 2023 and have already responded to several wildfires this year, according to an email from the department.

With nine out of 10 wildfires caused by people as opposed to other causes, the DNR is urging residents to practice fire safety and to check for burn permits before burning yard waste.

The department advised those grilling over an open flame, lighting a campfire, or burning yard debris to keep a water source and a metal shovel nearby, and to completely put out the fire with water every time. The department also noted that fires should never be left unattended, and advised against burning on a windy day.

The DNR also noted that burn permits are required for open burning any time the ground is not covered in snow. Residents should go to Michigan.gov/BurnPermit before burning debris like brush and leaves, to ensure the weather is safe for burning. The site links to a map, which will show whether burning is permitted by location.

There is no cost to get a burn permit, and residents do not need to wait for written approval. Obtaining the permit is focused on checking the conditions before lighting a fire, the DNR said.

In the southern half of the Lower Peninsula, burn permits are issued by local authorities, which may have stricter rules than the state or county. The DNR’s burn permit map directs residents to where they should call for permit information.

“Don’t be a statistic,” DNR fire prevention specialist Paul Rogers said in a statement. “The No. 1 cause of wildfire is escaped debris burns. Having a clear understanding of expected weather conditions is critically important when planning any burn.”

The department also noted that burning trash, plastic and electronics is illegal, even when open burning is permitted. It advised residents to dispose of these items by recycling, or through their municipal trash service.

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.



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