|VIENA CORNERS – A wildfire in Montmorency and Cheboygan counties is about 60 percent contained today, with Michigan Department of Natural Resources fire crews and local partners working to connect remaining containment line gaps in wet, low-lying areas.The Blue Lakes Fire is currently estimated at 2,710 acres. The increase in acreage from Saturday’s estimate is based on more accurate GPS measurement of the area.Fire activity is expected to be lower today due to more favorable weather conditions and ongoing mop-up efforts.|
Cause attributed to May 11 lightning strike
Crews were pulled off fire lines temporarily Saturday afternoon due to lightning risk, said Tim Webb, DNR spokesman at the fire.
“Although northeast Michigan had widespread rain Saturday afternoon, little fell in the fire area,” he said.
The cause of the fire has been determined to be a lightning strike from a May 11 thunderstorm.
“It’s not uncommon for a lightning strike to smolder for several days until surface fuels dry out enough to ignite and allow the fire to spread,” Webb said.
Numerous roads in the area remain closed
A number of local roads as well as a portion of the Black River remain closed today, including:
- East Branch Road and Black River Road between 622 and Oxbow Creek Road.
- Clark Bridge Road between Black River Road and Osmun Road.
- Blue Lakes Road between Hardwood Lake Road and East Branch Road.
- Black River Road between Blue Lakes Road and the Meridian Line Road and 622 intersection.
- The Black River remains closed between Blue Lakes Road and Clark Bridge Road.
Local departments have helped since fire was spotted Friday
|Those assisting DNR fire crews today include the Onaway, Tri-Township, Hillman and Lewiston fire departments; the Montmorency County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Management and the Michigan State Police.The fire was reported on Friday about 12:40 p.m. That afternoon, a DNR conservation officer escorted a group of kayakers on the Black River within the fire area to safety. The fire destroyed an outbuilding and damaged a privately owned vehicle.|
Due to increased fire risk, the DNR has not conducted prescribed burns in the past week and has not been issuing burn permits. Fire risk remains high to very high in much of northern Michigan. Before any open burning, check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.