Michigan DNR warns of fire risk ahead of warm, dry Memorial Day weekend

Northern Michigan Wildfire
Posted at 10:54 AM, May 25, 2023

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking people to keep fire danger in mind for Memorial Day weekend.

With millions of people expected to travel, the DNR said fire danger is elevated across the state, so keep safety in mind whether you're at home or traveling.

“Whether you're traveling north or not, conditions are dry in much of the state. Be careful with fire, ORVs and outdoor equipment and take precautions to keep yourself and others safe,” said Don Klingler, resource protection manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The danger is high or very high across the state, and some pockets of the northern Lower Peninsula are in extreme risk.

The weather this weekend in metro Detroit is expected to be dry and warm, with temps in the upper 70s on the weekend and into the 80s on Monday, Memorial Day.

Even if the landscape looks green, vegetation still can be dry, according to the DNR.

“Due to the low relative humidity, needle moisture in pines and lack of good rainfall, certain areas of the Upper Peninsula can definitely burn,” he said. Several of Michigan’s largest wildfires in the past have started during the last two weeks in May.

The DNR said yard waste burning is the top cause of fire in Michigan, and most wildfires are caused by people. If a backyard fire gets out of control, call 911 immediately.

Use these tips to keep your outdoor activities fire safe:

  • Keep a hose or other water source nearby when burning.
  • Prevent sparks. Keep trailer chains from dragging when you’re on the road; don’t park hot equipment on dry grass.
  • Contain your campfire or bonfire in a pit or ring and make sure you put it out thoroughly before leaving for the night. Douse the fire with water, stir the ashes and douse again.
  • Never leave any fire, including hot coals, unattended.
  • Never shoot fireworks into the woods, dry grass or shrubs.
  • It’s illegal to burn plastic, hazardous materials, foam or other household trash. This can release dangerous chemicals into the air, causing harm to you or others. Dispose of these materials properly.
  • You can use a burn barrel with a screen on top to burn paper, leaves and natural materials.