Warmer temperatures, with cool evenings, have fueled the desire of many Michiganders to build that traditional bonfire that binds family and friends together with hot dogs, beverages, and the melody of “Kumbaya” joining the crackling sound of the campfire. 

But, unfortunately, even though spring showers have popped up to dampen the ground, the threat of wildfire lingers across the “Mitten”. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports that fire danger is highest across the northern Lower Peninsula and in parts of the Upper Peninsula. 

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Even though some parts of the Upper Peninsula still have melting snow, those that don’t are drying fast. Jeff Vasher, fire specialist with the MDNR, says, 

Humidity is low, so the environment is drying out fast,” Vasher said. “A fire can take off with very little warning in these kinds of conditions, especially if it’s windy at all.

Before putting the torch to your impressive pile of combustibles, a phone call to local fire authorities is always a good idea. Some communities require a burn permit. Nothing kills the party spirit, when fire crews show up to the festive event and put a hose to the flaming crowd-pleaser. 

Michigan Dept. Natural Resources
Michigan Dept. Natural Resources

Tips On Keeping Your Local “Burning Man” Get-Together 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. 
  • Use a burn barrel with a screen on top to burn paper, leaves and natural materials. 

As the day of the mega-weenie roast approaches, you may want to consult the daily fire danger rating at Michigan.gov/FireManagement. Currently much of Southwest Michigan is experiencing High to Very High fire danger ratings! Since the beginning of fire season in March, DNR firefighters have fought more than 82 fires covering a total of more than 600 acres. 

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