Crews battling 2,000-acre wildfire in Northern Michigan

Crews in Montmorency and Cheboygan counties are currently battling a wildfire estimated to already have burned approximately 2,000 acres.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters and local partners are fighting what has been dubbed the “Blue Lakes Fire”. The fire was discovered at approximately 12:40 pm Friday, May 13, and so far has caused the evacuation of 13 people from the Black River Ranch.

No structures have been lost and no other evacuations had taken place as of Friday night, DNR spokesperson Kerry Heckman said.

“The fire is fueled by a mix of jack pine, mixed pine and grasses, with a very large smoke plume visible from miles away,” Heckman said.

The National Weather Service in Gaylord noted that the smoke plum could be seen on radar and satellite images at approximately 6 pm Friday.

The DNR has 40 firefighters on the ground, as well as a 12-member incident management team fighting the fire. Members of Tri-Township, Hillman Area, Vienna, Canada Creek Ranch Fire Brigade, Albert Township, Charlton Township and Onaway fire departments are assisting.

Additional support is being provided by Onaway EMS, Hillman Area EMS, Michigan State Police, Montmorency County Sheriff and DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Air support includes four Fire Bosses, one Air Attack plane, a Type 3 helicopter and a DNR spotter plane, according to the DNR.

Numerous roads are closed in the area to accommodate firefighting efforts and protect public safety. They include:

  • Blue Lakes Road to East Branch Road.
  • Black River Road to Camp 30 Road.
  • Clark Bridge Road to Black River Road.
  • Blue Lakes Road to Meridian Line Road.
  • The Black River between Blue Lakes Road and Clark Bridge Road is also closed.

No further information is available from the DNR at this time and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

The DNR cautions that fire danger in the area is ranked as ‘extreme’ due to windy, dry, warm weather plus an abundance of dry fuels. The DNR is reminding people to check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit before planning to burn yard debris or start a campfire, and always to have an accessible water source nearby.

For more fire safety tips, visit Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires.

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