Wildfire season is just beginning, officials say caution is key
A simple rule of thumb: wildfire season begins when there’s no snow on the ground. Hot, dry, and windy conditions increase the risk, but federal officials say people shouldn’t let their guard down, even when it’s cold and rainy.
DebraAnn Brabazon is with Huron-Manistee National Forests. She said wildfire risk is especially high in the spring when trees are bare, exposing the ground to the heat of the sun.
"One-hour fuels like grass and brush, leaf litter, dry needles - if you get a spark in there, the chances are that that fire is going to spread faster than you can potentially put it out,” Brabazon said.
Nearly half of wildfires in Michigan are caused by burning yard debris. Brabazon said residents should check the daily fire risk and clear their property of flammable materials - before burning in a controlled and supervised manner.
“[Most wildfires are] caused by human carelessness. If you lit it, stay with it," Brabazon said. "Don't leave. Do not put your child in charge of your firepit. First of all, check to see if they're even issuing burn permits. If they're not, you risk a wildfire.”
As of April 12, more than 30 wildfires have already burnt nearly 200 acres this year.
Most of that land burned just this month - thanks to hot, dry, and windy conditions in early April. But federal officials say not to let cool, wet conditions fool you from thinking wildfire risk is low.
For more information on how to prevent wildfires, visit MDNR's website on fire safety tips.