Keep an eye on fire danger this weekend

As Independence Day holiday celebrations continue throughout the weekend, the public is encouraged to put fire safety first. Fire weather danger is expected to be particularly high today and Sunday, with increased wind speeds and low humidity in the forecast.

The eastern Upper Peninsula east of M-35 also is dry and conditions may change. No rain is predicted for the area until late next week. Burn permits in some areas are restricted until conditions allow for safe burning.

“It doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,” said DNR fire prevention specialist Paul Rogers. “Hot embers buried in ashes can flame up days after a campfire has been put ‘out.’ Even small fireworks like sparklers are hot enough to spark a fire if they’re not disposed of properly.”

Rogers said that most wildfires in Michigan are caused by people. “As of July 2, the DNR so far this year has responded to 213 wildfires on 1,049 acres,” he said. “Nearly half of those were caused by debris burning, campfires and fireworks.

Those planning to have fires should keep the following tips in mind:

– Keep your fire small and manageable (no larger than 3 feet high and 3 feet wide).

– Build your fire in a fire ring or on mineral soil.

– Always keep a shovel, metal bucket and water source nearby.

– When finished with your fire, douse it thoroughly with water, stir the ashes and douse again. Repeat until cool.

– Your fire should be at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or debris. Be sure that no branches are hanging overhead.

– If you plan to burn yard debris, check for burn permits in your area.