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Michigan DNR urging fire safety with increased risk this weekend

Posted at 10:29 PM, Apr 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-03 22:44:20-04

MICHIGAN — The Department of Natural Resources is asking Michiganders to be fire safe this weekend with an increased risk for it during an “unusually busy” season.

“We’ve had a lot of fires already this year,” said Jeff Vasher, Michigan Department of Natural Resources fire specialist. “We’re way ahead of schedule.”

Vasher says this time of year, between the last snow melting and beginning of June, is “high-fire season.”

On average, he says they see 100-120 grass and brush incidents, but within a few weeks into the 2021 one, they’ve already responded to about 50.

“The grass is dead, everything is dead, so it doesn’t take a lot to get it burned,” said Vasher. “With the temperatures rising, the wind, and low humidities… That’s just a recipe for fires.”

Vasher adds a lack of snow and rainfall is fueling the conditions.

According to Vasher, the majority of wildfires are started by humans, be it by letting a yard-waste burn get out of hand or improperly putting out a bonfire.

“There’s just as much of a wildfire danger in the urban environment through yards, leaves, homes, and alleys as there are in the rural area at this time of year,” said Muskegon Heights’s Fire Chief Christopher Dean.

Dean lists those reasons as why his department is enacting an order for the first time since it was approved by the city in 2019 that bans open burning and recreational fires. The order is in effect until April 25. It does not prohibit the use of charcoal and propane grills for cooking.

READ MORE: Recreational fires banned in Muskegon Heights until April 25

“With limited resources, staffing and small government, having multiple incidents of small fires that were totally preventable is only a stress and a burden that takes us away from potential other emergencies, such as cardiac arrest,” said Dean.

Vasher says the best way to address the issue is by practicing fire safety, saying firefighters want to preserve property and life.

“Dump water on it, stir it up, dump more water on it - just make sure it’s out,” said Vasher.

“[Burn] in small piles that are manageable - always have a hose with you, with water. Make sure you clear around the spot, down to the mineral soil where you’re going to burn. Don’t burn on windy days.”

For additional fire tips, click here.

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