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Wildfire concerns remain high

Kevin Spencer |

Wildfires are more common in the spring, but this year has seen the wildfire season prolong into the middle of summer.

  Temperatures have been above average and precipitation has been below average; resulting in high concern for wildfires. 

The Manistee National Forest is primarily red pine and DNR Wildland Fire Prevention Specialist Paul Rogers said the biggest area of concern is in pine forests. 

“We are starting to get into a pretty serious drought,” Rogers said. “We did get a little bit of rain last week but it was not nearly enough to alleviate the drought.” 

He said pine forests ecosystems rely on fire, but this year has seen harmful fires. 

“We are very concerned because the soils are so dry that it's burning down into the soil layers, it's not just surface fire,” Rogers said. “Which means longer mop up time.”

In 2019, the DNR Fire Management Department responded to 318 wildfires. This year they have responded to 159. 

The majority of 2019 fires were ignited on weekends and were caused by people. The most common cause was debris-burning. Debris-burning fires can start from leaf and brush burning, or fires that escaped burn barrels. 

Thirty-one percent of fires in 2019 were from debris-burning.

“We’re expecting fire conditions to ramp up and we ask people to be extremely cautious,” Rogers said.