Helicopters fight U.P. wildfire, flight restrictions over area

[^Stock Photo – Type III firefighting helicopter]

RACO — At approximately 4:30 PM on July 13, a wildfire was detected on Hiawatha National Forest lands southwest of Raco. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The estimated size of the Pine Plantation Fire is 56 acres.

U.S. Forest Service and partners continue to actively suppress the fire. Dozer line was constructed around the fire Wednesday night, but the fire is not contained. Suppression efforts will continue today to confine the fire and minimize risk to firefighters and the public.

A type III helicopter with a water bucket has been ordered and will be working the fire later today. For the safety of the pilot and firefighters a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) will be in place surrounding the fire.

Officials want to advise residents that that Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones are a serious impediment to wildland firefighting. If a drone is spotted near a wildfire, aircraft will be grounded for safety reasons which puts firefighter’s safety at risk and suppression efforts will be suspended.

The area surrounding the fire is closed today and likely through the weekend. This includes a portion of the North Country Trail south of Soldier Lake Campground and continuing south to, and including Forest Road 3139 (also known as Dick’s Settlement Road).

“Aerial reconnaissance assistance from our partners at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources was essential to gaining critical situational awareness on the fire Wednesday night,” said Colleen Otero of the Hiawatha National Forest.

Additional partners assisting in bringing the fire under control include a 10-person fire crew from the Bay Mills Indian Community, a 20-person Type 2 Initial Attack fire crew comprised of Forest Service employees from the Hiawatha, Huron-Manistee, and the Ottawa National Forests, National Park Service employees from Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and members from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe from Mount Pleasant.