The melting snow may be a welcome change from winter’s chill, but the Department of Natural Resources reminds residents that pleasant weather also brings the threat of wildfires.
“Fire season gets going when dead grass and leaves become exposed after warm temperatures melt snow from easily ignited fields and forests,” explained Dan Laux, DNR fire prevention specialist.
He added that several factors contribute to the increased wildfire risk in the spring.
“Dead grass becomes flammable as it dries out,” Laux explained. “People don’t realize there can be wildfire danger even when nights are cool and snow piles linger in the shade. The hazard begins when homeowners start spring cleanup chores by burning yard waste.”
The unsafe burning of leaves, brush and other debris is a main cause of wildfires in Michigan.
A person is required to get a burn permit prior to burning brush and debris in Michigan. Residents in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula can obtain a free burn permit by visiting www.michigan.gov/burnpermit or by calling 866-922-2876. Residents in southern Michigan should contact their local fire department or township office to see if burning is permitted in their area.
The DNR reminds people to do the following prior to burning yard debris:
- Obtain a burn permit.
- Choose a day that is cool and damp with little wind.
- Burn in small mounds placed in areas that are clear of vegetation.
- Keep water close by.
- Supervise fires at all times.
- Always extinguish flames, coals and embers properly. Remember, embers can stay hot for days.
“Nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people,” Laux said. “We all need to do our part to prevent wildfires and protect the natural resources that make Michigan so special.”
So far this year the DNR has responded to 10 wildfires totaling 69 acres.
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