Strong Winds Keep Mich. Wild Fires Growing to More Than 12,000 Acres

A fire on remote, uninhabited land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has pushed past fire lines and grown to more than 12,000 acres amid erratic winds, temperatures in the 80s and a lack of rain, the state said Monday.

The size of the fire made it larger than the 1999 Tower Lake fire, another big U.P. blaze, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

No injuries had been reported, the DNR said. There also were no reports of damage to structures, but several structures in the Chesbrough Lake area were threatened. The DNR said at least five families left their homes.

The fire was about six miles north of Newberry in Luce County and about 10 miles from Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Precautionary evacuations were ordered for Luce County Road 420 near Pine Stump Junction. State Route 123 remained closed.

“A burnout effort initiated on Friday along highway M-123 paid dividends in holding the fire along that line as it spread southeastward,” the DNR said in a statement. “However, little progress could be made putting in much of the rest of the line through the marsh and bog country found in that area.

“The fire quickly spread outside its projected boundaries to the north and especially the south.”

More than 90 firefighters and support personnel, aided by a water bomber sent from Minnesota, worked Sunday, Aug. 5th to contain the blaze. Following the new size estimate for the fire, the DNR said it was about 20 percent contained, down from an estimate of 30 percent.

“More bulldozers and water units have been ordered … to strengthen the firefighting forces,” the DNR said.

The DNR said the fire probably was started by lightning strikes in the Sleeper Lake area on Thursday, Aug. 2nd. The blaze was one of several burning in northern Michigan during an unusually dry period.

The 1999 Tower Lake fire consumed 5,625 acres in western Marquette County over five days before it was contained.