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6 miles of Lake Superior coastline burned in Duck Lake fire

Sunday, May 27, 2012   by: SooToday.com Staff

NEWS RELEASE

MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT
OF NATURAL RESOURCES
 
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Michigan DNR update on Duck Lake Fire in Luce County

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today offered this update on the Duck Lake Fire in the Upper Peninsula’s Luce County.

New GPS data show that the fire is now estimated to cover 20,255 acres. Forty-eight percent of the fire area is contained.

The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds.

The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior.

There are currently 40 miles of fire line.

Of that fire line, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (includes County Road 500), and 21 miles is uncontained fire line.

Access is very difficult with few roads.

Saturday, firefighters made progress on securing portions of the fire perimeter especially along the northwest flank from Lake Superior south to County Road 414 and at the south end of the fire.

North of Pike Lake the fire has extended east to County Road 500, with the fire crossing the road in two locations.

Fire lines in this area are currently holding. 

South of Pike Lake the fire is well west of County Road 500.

Air water drops have knocked down hot spots from Little Lake Harbor south to Culhane Lake.

Structure protection is high priority and is being closely monitored from the air. The entire east side of the fire, from Little Lake Harbor south, is active and with expected westerly/northwesterly winds, extreme fire conditions persist.

Flame lengths within the fire perimeter are still 10 to 15 feet. Potential for blow-up conditions continue. 

During the night, three VFD fire engines patrolled the lines and continued suppression of hot spots.

Today’s incident objectives are:

  • To provide for public and firefighter safety
  • To provide for structure protection
  • To keep the fire north of M-123
  • To keep fire in vicinity of County Rd. 500
  • To hold fire inside constructed dozer line on northwest flank
  • To hold the fire inside burnout operations on the northeast flank
  • To continue gathering GPS data on completed line.

Today’s fire suppression activities will focus on holding existing secure line, fortifying established line put in yesterday, and extending fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks.

A burn out operation yesterday to create black line along Co. Rd. 500 on the northeast flank will be monitored and mopped up where needed to secure this portion of the flank.

Air operations will be focusing efforts on the east and south west flanks and structure protection.

An evacuation order is in effect for the area from Pike Lake east to County Road 500 and north to Little Lake Harbor.

Residents are advised to be vigilant and evacuate.

County Road 414 east from the intersection with County Road 410, and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor are closed. Please do not enter the area.

A number of structures have been damaged or lost.

The Luce County Emergency Management Team, DNR conservation officers, and firefighters will continue to assess damage.

Concerned parties should phone 211 (Upper Peninsula residents) and 1-800-338-1119 (all others) to register their structure location and contact information.

As the structure inventory and damage assessment are completed, the involved parties will be contacted by the DNR and informed of the status of their property.

A Reminder: The DNR will be hosting a public meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 27, 2012 at the McMillan Township Hall at the corner of M-123 and Truman in Newberry.

The meeting is for those residents who were evacuated or have questions about evacuations and will focus on general fire information and structure losses.

DNR fire staff, public information officers, law enforcement, and the Luce County Emergency Management Team will be in attendance at the meeting.

The Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s lower falls campground, upper falls viewing area, and visitor center have been closed due to smoke concerns.

A total of 229 personnel (of which 40 are overhead personnel) are involved with fire suppression efforts.

Agencies, people and equipment involved include:

Three DNR Conservation Officers on duty around the clock.

Volunteer fire departments: Bay Mills, Garfield Township, Columbus Township, Portage Township, Whitefish Township, Superior Township, Village of Newberry, Seney Township, and Kinross Township.

  • 13 DNR fire engines, 10 volunteer fire department engines, 2 VFD fire department water tankers, 3 Wisconsin DNR engines.
  • 12 Michigan DNR and 2 Wisconsin DNR bulldozers 
  • 1 US Fish & Wildlife Service Helicopter
  • 2 Minnesota DNR Air Tankers
  • 4 Michigan National Guard aircraft and ground support.

Cooperating Agencies include the Michigan State Police, Luce County Sherriff’s Department, Red Cross, Michigan State Police Emergency Management, Luce County Emergency Management, Michigan National Guard, Wisconsin DNR, Minnesota DNR, Chippewa County Sheriff Department, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A warm front moving through this morning and may bring some rain on the fire area which is expected to clear by noon. Temperatures in the low 70s and a relative humidity of 50 percent or greater are expected. 

It is essential that the public realize and respect the extreme danger this fire poses to especially areas east of the entire 10 mile long east flank.

The rain and the predicted weather for today will aid progress in constructing additional fire control lines and securing existing line.

A special note of thanks: The Duck Lake Fire staff and DNR would like to express their gratitude for the outpouring of support from Newberry, Luce County and the entire region. The numerous citizens lining the streets of Newberry to welcome the fire crews back after a long hard day of fighting fire on the lines is very much appreciated.

In addition, the Red Cross has been inundated with donations of food, clothes, Gatorade, and water for both the evacuees and fire staff.

The firefighters would especially like to thank all of the Tahquamenon Area Girl Scout Troops for donating $300 from their newspaper and magazine recycling project to provide snacks and goodies for the fire staff while they are out on the fire line.

A special thanks also to Snyder Drugs for working with the troops to provide the snacks to the firefighters.  

On May 25, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in the Luce and Schoolcraft counties.

The declaration permits authorities to evacuate residents, and establishes a fireworks ban in the two affected counties and an outdoor burning ban in 49 counties:

Alcona, Alger, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Baraga, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Clare, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Gladwin, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Iosco, Iron, Isabella, Kalkaska, Keweenaw, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Manistee, Marquette, Mason, Mecosta, Menominee, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Schoolcraft and Wexford.

For more information about what is and is not permissible under the outdoor burning ban, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/d3xoa3y.

The DNR strongly encourages all residents and visitors in all parts of the state to avoid open burning and use of any fireworks during this extremely high fire-danger season to minimize the possibility of more wildfires.

For wildfire prevention tips, information and home protection ideas, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.

For more information on the Duck Lake Fire situation, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr (where you can sign up for wildfire incident updates via email or text message) or follow www.twitter.com/michiganDNR,www.twitter.com/michiganDNR_UP or www.facebook.com/miDNR.

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