LANSING - State legislators met with residents impacted by the Duck Lake Fire this morning via a video conference between Lansing and Newberry. A resolution was adopted at the committee level seeking national assistance for those affected by the wildfire which is now 100 percent contained.
During the meeting, representatives from the Department of Natural Resources in Lansing presented a wrap up on the fire which is considered to be the third-largest wildfire in modern Michigan history, consuming 21,127 acres.
The largest wildfire in the state was also in the Upper Peninsula where the Seney Fire burned 72,000 acres in 1976.
(Inset map courtesy of www.michigan.gov/dnr — map illustration by Mary Ann Heath)
The second-largest fire - the Mack Lake Fire near Mio in northern Lower Michigan - burned 25,000 acres in 1980.
A group of about two dozen community leaders and residents who assisted with Duck Lake firefighting efforts and/or were impacted by the blaze met this morning at the Luce County Health Department where the teleconference was conducted, connecting with officials in Lansing.
Legislative members from the following committees participated in today's video conference: the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee; the Senate DNR Appropriations Subcommittee; and the House Forestry and Mining Subcommittee.
Senate Resolution 158, introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) was adopted to urge the president of the United States to declare a major disaster or emergency for areas impacted by the Duck Lake wildfire, according to a spokesperson for Casperson. The full Senate is expected to pass the resolution today or Thursday, the spokesperson added.
The Duck Lake Fire - located in Luce County, 15 miles west of Paradise - was determined to have been ignited by a lightning strike on May 24.
The following evening, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in Luce and Schoolcraft counties where separate wildfires were burning. A wildfire, also sparked by lightning, was burning in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and was later contained.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the Duck Lake Fire which took more than two weeks to fully contain. Equipment used in the suppression of the wildfire included 16 fire trucks, six dozers, and an airplane.
In the end, no lives were lost but 136 structures were burned including a motel and a store, according to DNR officials. Also lost during the wildfire were 47 cabins and homes, 23 garages, 38 outbuildings, and 26 campers.
Local roads were closed because of the number of emergency vehicles enroute and because of the fire's threat to the public. Residents, campers, and others in the wildfire area had to be evacuated.
The evacuation order was lifted Thursday evening for all property owners within the fire area. Homeowners were required to present proof of ownership to be allowed past checkpoint areas where police patrols monitored activity. The entire Duck Lake Fire area was opened to the public on Monday.
In addition to the Michigan DNR, other agencies assisting included the Michigan State Police, Luce County Sheriff's Department, Red Cross, Luce County Emergency Management, Wisconsin DNR, American Red Cross and Salvation Army.