DNR offers Labor Day weekend campfire safety tips

HARVEY — With the Labor Day holiday weekend now here, many Michiganders head camping. The Department of Natural Resources says to not allow the damp weather to fool you, saying that campfires will still be a real danger this weekend.

Despite the recent damp weather, Michigan is seeing late summer conditions where fuels such as grass and leaves are approaching the end of their growing season and once dead, they dry out quickly and that makes them susceptible to fast spreading fires. The DNR also says nine out of ten wildfires are caused by people.

“When you are extinguishing your fire, make sure you use water,” DNR fire specialist Bryce Avery said. “Don’t just cover it with dirt, because that will act as an insulator and actually hold the heat in the coals underneath the dirt. You want to make sure you take a tool like a shovel or rake and add water and stir to get it mixed in with the coals at the bottom of your fire.”

If coals aren’t extinguished properly, they can stay hot for days or even weeks, depending on the size of the fire. Officials ask that you keep the fire no larger than it needs to be.

“Most of the fires in Michigan are caused by debris burning,” Avery said. “It’s loss of control initially by the fire or not being extinguished properly. When the fuels dry out, they blow off the cover of ashes. There will still be hot coals there and they spread to the dry fuels, even several days after you have had your fire.”

So far this year, the DNR has responded to 158 wildfires that have burned more than 525 acres. To obtain a burn permit for yard waste or brush piles, you can call (866) 922-2876 or visit www.michigan.gov/burnpermit.