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High risk for wildfires in MI Lower Peninsula; officials request that you don't burn yard waste

Seney wildfire
A 2012 wildfire in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. (file photo)

State officials are asking people in the lower peninsula to not burn anything this week. That's because of the high risk of wildfires.

The wildfire risk comes from high winds and low humidity along with fuel in the form of leaves, fallen tree limbs, and yard debris. That makes fire danger high.

“There’s not a ban in effect, but we’re asking people to not- just not burn. I mean, the winds are way too high,” said Paul Rogers, a fire prevention specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

He noted that 90% of human-caused wildfires start when backyard burning gets out of control.

“Especially with these high winds that can really push it through the woods or a field very quickly. People just don’t realize how fast it spreads. And especially with the humidity being low, that’s a major contributing factor.”

Winds have been gusting above 30 miles per hour across much of the lower peninsula.

Rogers says the fire danger there will remain high through the weekend.

He added even equipment or vehicles that come into contact with dry grass or leaves can be a hazard.

“Use extreme caution when you’re out in the woods, even operating chainsaws. They can cause a spark too.”

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.