The Michigan Department of Natural Resources along with partner agencies continues to battle the Duck Lake Fire in the Upper Peninsula’s Luce County. The fire, which began with a lightning strike, covered 17,935 acres as of 4 p.m. Friday, May 25.
The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. The fire area includes 6 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and 29.5 miles of uncontained fire line. Access to the fire is very difficult because there are few roads. The fire has extended northeast beyond Little Lake Harbor and is active all along its entire east flank.
Atmospheric and fuel conditions continue to be favorable for extreme fire behavior. Although the fire was expected Friday to continue to spread east/northeast from its east flank due to the wind direction, suppression efforts knocked down hot portions of the active fire edge this afternoon.
An evacuation order is in effect for the area from Pike Lake east to County Road 500 and north to Little Lake Harbor. Residents are advised to be vigilant and evacuate.
County Road 414 to County Road 410 and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor are closed. For the sake of public safety and so as not to impede firefighting efforts, the public is instructed not to enter this area. A number of structures have been damaged or lost. Luce County Emergency Management Team will assess each home/cottage when conditions permit.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park has been closed and campers have been directed to other facilities. Campground reservations for the park are not currently being accepted.
A total of 91 firefighters are on the scene. Personnel and equipment fighting the fire include:
— 49 DNR firefighters;
— 24 volunteer fire department personnel from the following volunteer fire departments: Bay Mills, Garfield Township, Columbus Township, Portage Township, Whitefish Township, Superior Township, Village of Newberry;
— 10 DNR fire engines, 7 volunteer fire department engines, 2 fire department water tankers.
— 10 DNR bulldozers
— 1 US Fish & Wildlife Service helicopter
— 2 Minnesota DNR air tankers
Agencies working with the DNR include the Michigan State Police, Luce County Sherriff’s Department, Red Cross, Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Luce County Emergency Management.
Winds are expected to diminish throughout the evening and the wind direction to turn to the northeast. This is expected to slow the spread to the east and northeast but may cause increased activity on other sectors of the fire. Saturday will hopefully see an increase in relative humidity throughout the day with the possibility of precipitation Saturday night.
It is essential that the public realize and respect the extreme danger this fire poses, especially to areas east of the entire 10-mile-long east flank. A return of strong west winds would cause the fire to progress to the east toward County Road 500 and M-123, especially that part of the line immediately east of Pike Lake where pine fuel types are prevalent.
Efforts will again be concentrated on the east side of the fire, especially the area around Pike Lake where numerous structures exist. Suppression efforts will also include fire line construction in other locations including the west flank which may become more active with anticipated changes in wind direction. Local fire departments will continue to be tasked with structure protection and evaluation/assessment.
On May 25, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in 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 – statewide – to avoid open burning and use of any fireworks during this extremely high fire-danger season, in order to minimize the possibility of more wildfires. For wildfire prevention tips, information and home protection ideas, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.
For more information on the Duck Lake Fire situation, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr (where you can sign up for wildfire incident updates via email) or follow www.twitter.com/michiganDNR, www.twitter.com/michiganDNR_UP or www.facebook.com/miDNR.