DNR provides update on Duck Lake Fire structural losses, flight restrictions
May 30, 2012
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today offered this morning update on the Duck Lake Fire in the Upper Peninsula's Luce County. Most recent GPS data show the fire size at 21,450 acres. At this point, the Duck Lake Fire area is 55 percent contained.
The latest estimate on structure loss is that there are 138 properties within the perimeter of the fire; 115 sites have been inspected to this point, with 23 sites remaining. Inspections are ongoing, and it is anticipated that they will be completed today. A total of 115 structures have been lost, with a breakdown as follows:
- 41 homes/cabins
- 22 garages
- 27 sheds/outbuildings
- 25 campers
- 1 store
- 1 motel
Landowners who have property located within the fireline should call 211 (for UP residents) or 1-800-338-1119 (for non-UP residents) in order to register to be escorted back in to view their property. There will not be any escorted site visits to individuals who do not own property within the fireline. The highest priority will be given to individuals who own permanent residences within the fireline. Site visits will depend upon fire conditions and operations at the time.
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 fireline. Of that fireline, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (that includes County Road 500) and 21 miles is uncontained fireline. Access remains very difficult with few roads.
The DNR would like to remind all pilots that a Temporary Flight Restriction remains in effect over the area of the Duck Lake Fire. The restriction was put in place May 26, 2012, to provide a safe environment for firefighting aircraft operations, and will remain in effect until further notice. More information can be found at:
The DNR also announced late Tuesday evening that Tahquamenon Falls State Park's Upper Falls viewing areaand visitor center and Lower Falls campground have reopened today, May 30. Hiking trails on the north side of M-123, including the North Country Trail, will remain closed until further notice.
Tuesday's progress saw fire crews construct fireline across all of Division G in the southeast corner of the fire and roughly half of the fire's west side. Additionally, saw crews were able to remove a significant number of hazard trees along the southeast side of Pike Lake.
An evacuation order remains in effect for the area from Pike Lake east to County Road 500 and north to Little Lake Harbor.
Road closures include County Road 414 east from the intersection with County Road 410, and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor. Please do not enter the area. All road closures remain in effect until further notice. No road reopening schedule has been determined due to ongoing fire issues and aircraft suppression efforts.
An additional quarter-inch of rain fell on most of the fire yesterday afternoon and last night. It's expected to be mostly cloudy today, then becoming sunny as the day progresses. Temperatures will be cool today, with a high of 48. Humidity will be 60 percent to 80 percent, with higher humidities near the lakeshore. Winds will be from the northwest at 10 to 14 miles per hour, with gusts of 20 to 25 miles per hour.
Today's incident objectives are to:
- provide for public and firefighter safety
- provide for structure protection
- keep the fire north of M-123
- keep the fire in vicinity of County Road 500, in Division D
- hold and mop up constructed dozer line in Divisions A, J and M
- identify hazard trees around structures and roads for the saw crews
- continue to work on securing line in all divisions
- continue getting GPS data on completed line in all divisions
Crews will continue to mop up and secure the west side of Pike Lake, an area of heavy duff fuels; saw crews will work on hazard trees in this area; and mop-up will continue in all divisions.
Earlier this week, one of the National Guard helicopters experienced a mechanical failure and lost its bucket in Bone Lake. Divers were unable to retrieve the bucket Tuesday; those efforts will continue today.
Air operations will focus on structure protection and supporting fireline construction in the wet, inaccessible areas of the fire.
A total of 237 personnel -- including 56 overhead personnel -- are involved with fire suppression efforts. People, equipment and agencies fighting the fire include:
- Four DNR conservation officers and a sergeant are on duty around the clock.
- Volunteer fire departments: Bay Mills, Germfask Township, Hendricks Township, Burt Township, Whitefish Township, Superior Township, Village of Newberry and Kinross Township.
- 18 DNR fire engines, 10 volunteer fire department engines, 1 VFD fire department water tanker, 3 Wisconsin DNR engines.
- 10 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.
- Keweenaw Bay Indian Community hand crew
- WIC #1 hand crew from Wisconsin
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, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
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. The Bay Mills Indian Community donated a fish fry dinner with all the trimmings to the fire crews Monday night, which was a huge hit. The community did a similar fish fry for the firefighters during the Sleeper Lake Fire in 2007, and all of the firefighters were hoping they would put on another one for this fire. The Duck Lake Fire Help Center has been providing snacks, clothing, and toiletry items to the firefighters out of the Youth Center across from the IGA Store in Newberry.
On May 25, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in 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.
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, and for information on what is and is not permissible under the outdoor burning ban, 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.