CRAWFORD COUNTY / GRAYLING – Firefighters continued to come to Grayling to support local fire teams as the battled the Wilderness Trail Fire southeast of town.
Firefighting crews from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources arrived early this afternoon with multiple pieces of heavy equipment, including the dozer pictured.
The Wisconsin supervisor stopped to talk with Up North Voice staff as he was headed to sign in. He said the crew crossed the Mackinac Bridge about 12:30 p.m..
“When we crossed the bridge we were surprised that everything there was still green,” a crew member added. “But we know how these fires work. We’re glad to be here and hopefully can assist the crews working in the field.”
The Wisconsin resources were made available through the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact. The agreement between Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba ensure mutual aid for forestfire suppression efforts.
The blaze was caused by a campfire on private property that got out of control. The property owner has not been identified.
The June 3 blaze started about 1 p.m. near the intersection of Staley Lake Road and Wilderness Trail. So far it caused the destruction of about 2,500 acres of forestland, and affected 35 residences, 38 vehicles including 23 campers and three boats, and 58 outbuildings. Three outbuildings were lost. A complete damage assessment is underway.
(Total acreage is based on a summary of all reporting agencies as they each have reported different amounts).
Officials said the fire, located southeast of Grayling, is 90 percent contained after local, state and federal firefighters battled the blaze last night and all day Sunday.
“The crews were working in hilly, sandy terrain and that was difficult,” said Mike Janisse, Incident Commander of the Michigan DNR Incident Management Team supporting the fire. “Weather conditions (during the day) also were hot, dry and windy.”
Crews benefitted from the change in weather overnight when temps dropped into the mid 50s and wind speeds fell to almost nothing.
“One of the most important things people can do now is to refrain from burning until we get significant rain,” Janisse added.
High winds can bring tree branches and debris into contact with energized powerlines which can create additional wildfire scenarios, prompting officials to conduct a Public Safety Power Shutoff in Grayling. Power was back on about 2 p.m. Sunday.
Residents and area visitors are asked to stay away from the fire area while crews continue to work. Roads in the fire perimeter remain closed. The DNR did not identify which roads are closed.
Small planes and drones are temporarily restricted from flying within a five mile perimeter of the fire zone.
Agencies assisting with the blaze included: Wisconsin DNR (heavy equipment), Michigan State Police (helicopter), USDA Forest Service (fire planes and helicopter_ , Bureau of Land Management, Grayling Station 2, Grayling Public Safety, Gaylord City Fire Department; and fire departments from Grayling Township, Kalkaska, Blue Lake, Beaver Creek, Markey Township, Higgins Township, Richfield Township, South Branch Township, Frederic Township, Otsego County, Cold Springs and Denton Township.
The planes and chopper scooped water from Neff Lake, Shellenbarger Lake and Lake Margrethe to pour on the fire.
UpNorthVoice.com will update this story as accurate information becomes available.