Although the Duck Lake Fire made two serious runs last night, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources today reported its estimated size at 21,694 acres. The fire did spot across the line in at least one place. The department continues to get more accurate GPS information in order to get a better grasp on the exact size of the fire. Forty-seven percent of the fire area is contained.
The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. A long and narrow fire, it stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. There are currently 40 miles of fire line. Of that fire line, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (includes County Road 500), and 21 miles is uncontained fire line. Access remains very difficult with few roads.
The latest estimate is that there are 134 properties within the perimeter of the fire, of which 99 have been inspected to this point. Of the 99 properties inspected, 39 properties have suffered losses. On the 39 properties that suffered losses, 97 structures were lost. The structure losses breakdown as follows:
Concerned parties should phone 211 (Upper Peninsula residents) and 1-800-338-1119 (all others) to register their structure location and contact information. Officials do not have contact information for all properties within the fire perimeter, so it is very important that all landowners make contact. As the structure inventory and damage assessments are completed, the involved parties will be contacted and informed of the status of their property.
No escorted site visits will be allowed for individuals who do not own property within the fire line. The highest priority will be given to the individuals who own permanent residences within the fire line. Site visits will depend upon fire conditions and operations at the time.
Luce County Emergency Management has provided landowner site visits for homeowners in the Pike Lake and Little Lake Harbor areas, giving them an opportunity to quickly visit their homes to see the status for themselves.
Between one-quarter inch and three-quarter inches of rain fell on the fire late yesterday afternoon and evening, with more rain falling on the south end of the fire. There is a chance of showers today, with rainfall amounts of up to 0.08 inches. Temperatures will be in the high 60s today, with minimum humidity of 49 percent. Winds will be west to northwest at 7 to 10 miles per hours, with gusts to 20 miles per hour.
The fire area experienced very strong winds Monday afternoon, causing a blowup on a portion of the fire that forced firefighters to retreat to their safety zones in order to allow air support to drop water on the area. As thunderstorms approached the area, the aircraft had to leave and ground crews had to temporarily take shelter from the storms. Afterward, crews were able to take advantage of the rain that arrived on the heels of the blowup to make progress in fire suppression efforts. Fire crews were able to construct additional line in Divisions D and G yesterday, and hope to link up today.
Structure protection remains a high priority and is being closely monitored from the air. The hand crew made progress Monday, mopping up along the west and south sides of Pike Lake. So far, 9 miles of the 33-mile-long perimeter has secure line built. Twenty-four miles of fire line remain to be built. At this point, the fire is 47 percent contained. Three VFD fire engines patrolled the lines and continued suppression of hot spots.
Today’s incident objectives are:
To provide for public and firefighter safety
Provide for structure protection
Keep fire north of M-123
Keep fire in vicinity of County Road 500, and assess spot fires in Division D
Hold and mop up constructed dozer line in Divisions J and M
Identify hazard trees around structures and roads for the saw crews
Continue to work on securing line near the break between Divisions D and G
Continue getting GPS data on completed line in all divisions
Ongoing fire suppression efforts will see crews continue to mop up and secure the west side of Pike Lake, an area of heavy duff fuels. Structure protection is a priority in this area. Saw crews will be working on hazard trees in this area, too.
A National Guard helicopter experienced a mechanical failure on Sunday and lost its bucket in Bone Lake. Divers will work today with law enforcement to retrieve the bucket.
Crews will work to hold existing secure line, fortify established line put in yesterday, and extend fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks. Crews are beginning to mop up 50 feet in from the Fireline. Air operations will focus efforts on the east and southwest flanks and structure protection.
An evacuation order remains in effect for the area from Pike Lake east to County Road 500 and north to Little Lake Harbor.
County Road 414 east from the intersection with County Road 410 and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor are closed. Please do not enter the area. All road closures remain in effect until further notice. No road reopening schedule has been determined due to ongoing fire issues and aircraft suppression efforts.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s lower falls campground, upper falls viewing area and visitor center have been closed due to smoke concerns. Please do not visit the park.
A total of 232 personnel – of which 53 are overhead personnel – are involved with fire suppression efforts. People, agencies and equipment involved include:
Four DNR conservation officers and a sergeant are on duty around the clock.
Volunteer fire departments: Bay Mills, Garfield Township, Columbus Township, Portage Township, Whitefish Township, Superior Township, Village of Newberry and Kinross Township.
18 DNR fire engines, 8 volunteer fire department engines, 2 VFD fire department water tankers and 3 Wisconsin DNR engines.
11 Michigan DNR and 2 Wisconsin DNR bulldozers
1 US Fish & Wildlife Service helicopter
2 Minnesota DNR air tankers
4 Michigan National Guard aircraft and ground support.
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community hand crew
Cooperating agencies include the Michigan State Police, Luce County Sherriff’s Department, Michigan State Police Emergency Management, Red Cross, Luce County Emergency Management, Michigan National Guard, Wisconsin DNR, Minnesota DNR, Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
It is essential that the public realize and respect the extreme danger this fire poses to areas east of the entire 10-mile-long east flank.
A special note of thanks: The Duck Lake Fire staff and the DNR would like to express their gratitude for the outpouring of support from Newberry, Luce County and the entire region. Numerous citizens have lined the streets of Newberry to welcome the fire crews back after their time on the front lines. On Monday evening, the Bay Mills Indian community donated a fish fry dinner with all the trimmings for the fire crews, and it was a huge hit. Most of the firefighters recalled a similar dinner during the 2007 Sleeper Lake Fire and were happy to see the Bay Mills Indian community come through again. The Duck Lake Fire Help Center has been providing snacks, clothing and toiletry items to the firefighters out of the Youth Center across from the IGA Store in Newberry.
On May 25, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in the Luce and Schoolcraft counties. The declaration permits authorities to evacuate residents, and establishes a fireworks ban in the two affected counties and an outdoor burning ban in 49 counties:
Alcona, Alger, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Baraga, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Clare, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Gladwin, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Iosco, Iron, Isabella, Kalkaska, Keweenaw, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Manistee, Marquette, Mason, Mecosta, Menominee, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Schoolcraft and Wexford.
The DNR strongly encourages all residents and visitors in all parts of the state to avoid open burning and use of any fireworks during this extremely high fire-danger season to minimize the possibility of more wildfires. For wildfire prevention tips, and for information on what is and is not permissible under the outdoor burning ban, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.
For more the most up-to-date information on the Duck Lake Fire situation – including a recently posted video of the Duck Lake Fire – visit www.michigan.gov/dnr (where you can sign up for wildfire incident updates via email or text message) or follow www.twitter.com/michiganDNR, www.twitter.com/michiganDNR_UP or www.facebook.com/miDNR (where photos from the scene of the fire and of community support in Newberry are posted).