GRAYLING TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A roaring wildfire, responsible for the scorching of over three square miles (7.7 square kilometers) in Michigan, originated from a seemingly innocuous campfire, according to the Department of Natural Resources in a briefing on Sunday.
The rampant Wilderness Trail Fire ignited around 1 p.m. on Saturday, in close proximity to Staley Lake in Grayling Township, Crawford County. Initial investigations pointed towards a campfire on a private property as the root cause, as per Sunday’s department update.
As per the Michigan DNR, the wildfire’s fury had swept across over 2,000 acres (809 hectares) and was largely tamed to an 85% containment by Sunday morning. This accomplishment came about as a result of relentless efforts by the department’s fire teams and collaborating agencies, working tirelessly overnight to subdue the ferocious inferno and to preserve the wildlife.
The wildfire has burned 3,000 acres but firefighters working overnight had it 85 percent contained. https://t.co/DBFSpN3HbC
— MLive (@MLive) June 4, 2024
“Facing the uphill battle in sandy, hilly terrains was no easy task, especially with the punishing weather – hot, dry, and windy,” said Mike Janisse, an incident commander with the Michigan DNR.
On Saturday, the raging fire moved aggressively west and southwest, devouring swathes of jack pine, mixed pines, and oak, and posing a significant threat to various structures. The dense smoke billowing from the wildfire led to the temporary shutdown of Interstate 75, from the afternoon until just before the stroke of midnight.
In the face of the fire’s onslaught, emergency evacuation orders were issued for the affected area, but with the containment efforts yielding positive results, residents were allowed to return late Saturday.
The department, however, warns that fire danger remains exceedingly high to critical across a large part of Michigan, with these hazardous conditions likely to persist due to the ongoing hot, dry spell.
Janisse urged the locals to exercise caution, stating that burn permits for yard debris are not being granted in light of the elevated fire risk. He appealed to residents “to abstain from any burning activities until we’re blessed with substantial rain.”
Located around 150 miles (241 km) north of Lansing, Grayling Township is now a testament to the devastating power of wildfires.