Wildfire in Northern Michigan Forces Dozens To Evacuate Their Homes

DNR: Fire risk is high in Northern Michigan on Memorial Day

WWJ News
May 23, 2020 - 10:01 am
M-72 Fire Plane

Several planes including this U.S. Forest Service Air Boss were used to dump water on the flames (Department of Natural Resources)


(WWJ) Residents of about 70 homes near Grayling were forced to evacuate while firefighters battled flames in Crawford County.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the fire broke out late Thursday afternoon in privately owned jack pines stands along M-72 between Stephan Bridge Road and S. Horseshoe Trail, about 8 miles east of Grayling.

The DNR tells WWJ the M-72 fire burned a piece of land about 1 mile long and 1/5-mile-wide, a total of 105 acres, before firefighters contained it about three hours later.

Federal, local and state agencies assisted in putting out the fire including: The U.S. Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State Police and Crawford County Sheriff's Department. Firefighters from nearby towns of South Branch, Grayling and Frederic Township also pitched in. 

The “few days of sunny skies and warmer temperatures” created perfect conditions for a fire to break out, according to the DNR.

Jack pine is one of the most prevalent tree species in the Grayling area and its seeds are released by fire, making it very fire-prone. It was this combination of weather and fuels that led to the M-72 Fire,” DNR officials said in a press release.

M-72 Fire2
Department of Natural Resources

The DNR said the fire risk will be elevated on Monday in the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the lower peninsula.

Evacuated residents were able to return home that same evening to minimal damage. No injuries were reported.

The DNR urge residents, Metro Detroiters heading up North, and business owners to take the following precautions if working with fire.

-Burn debris in barrels with metal screens

-Clear leaves and other vegetation out of your burn area

-Make sure to have a source of water on hand whenever you burn something

-Stay with a fire until it is out completely