Campers avoid building fires during dry conditions, warning from DNR

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 23:39:13-04

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued a warning about an elevated risk of wildfires across the state.

The DNR says a lack of rain is making conditions extremely dry and in some cases dangerous. The warning comes after firefighters spent four days fighting a wildfire in Crawford County. The DNR says the fire, which spread across 2,400 acres, was contained Tuesday evening.

Elevated fire risk
A map shows the elevated fire risk across the state.

People say it's changed the way they are camping this season.

Tuesday afternoon, Jeff Gabriel sat near his camper at the Proud Lake Recreational Area campground in Commerce Township enjoying the weather.

"This is probably one of my favorite campgrounds. I don’t live far from here, only about 25 minutes," Gabriel said. "I really like the lake. The lake is calm, there’s not a lot of speed boats and I’m a swimmer. "

Gabriel says he's avoided building a fire during this camping stay because of the conditions.

"I haven’t done a fire because of that. I don’t want to have to be worrying about ashes catching. It’s pretty dry right now," Gabriel said.

Scott Schafer, who was also at the camping site Tuesday with his wife, sat near a fire pit. He says this isn't the first time they've had to deal with dry conditions.

"It’s very dry out there. The grass is crunchy, you’re afraid, a spark or anything could set off a meandering blaze down somewhere," Schafer said.

Schafer says when conditions are too dry, he avoids building a fire altogether in open areas but feels safe to do so in a contained fire pit.

"At our cabin up north, I didn’t make a fire at all. I have a fire pit, but I’m surrounded by a thousand acres of woods. I don’t want to risk it," he added.

Schafer says he's hoping for more rain soon.

In the meantime, the DNR says they will not be issuing any open burn permits. The agency is telling campers to keep fires small and make sure to always have eyes on the fire.

They're also telling campers to always keep water on hand using a "drench, stir, drench again" method to put out flames before leaving.