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Newaygo Co. fire sparked by abandoned campfire

Experts share safety tips given Monday's 'red flag warning' amid elevated fire risk.

NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. — With the warming temperatures and several other factors comes an increased risk of fire.

Crews already battled a fire in Newaygo County over the weekend that sparked on Pine Avenue between 12th and 24th streets.

Several crews were called in to assist with the response.

The fire was extinguished by approximately 7 p.m. Saturday night, according to the US Forest Service.

Investigators determined an abandoned campfire had sparked the flames.

Faced with dangerous conditions, including low relative humidity, sustained winds and elevated temperatures, fire crews remained poised to react Monday.

“Especially during periods like this week, we've had that heat component, and most fires are human caused,” Josh Veal of the Huron Manistee National Forest related. “That leads to rapid wildfire spread.”

A memo that may have come in handy prior to the weekend.  

Saturday’s fire in Newaygo County surged to 14 acres in size off Pine Avenue and a elicited a response from dozens of emergency crews.

“Our firefighters and local volunteer fire departments responded,” Veal said. “They investigated and (it) was determined to be an escaped campfire.”

A runaway campfire that could have and should have been snuffed out before the lights and sirens got involved, Veal related.

“This fire was completely 100% preventable,” he said. “Be fire safe… put out that fire so we don't have to come put it out.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources maintains a map on the DNR website which shows, in real-time, where burn permits are available.

Much of the northern half of the 13 ON YOUR SIDE viewing area was shaded in brown at the time of publication, meaning no permits were being issued on account of a red flag warning issued for Monday.  

Credit: Michigan DNR

“Don’t burn basically during these red flag conditions,” Veal advised.

Even if conditions are appropriate – stable temperatures, very little wind, not particularly dry—Veal outlined several hard-and-fast rules:

  • Have a source of water nearby
  • Keep a shovel and a bucket on hand
  • Don’t walk away or leave fire unattended
  • Extinguish fire with water
  • Avoid burning during less than ideal conditions

“Just be smart with fire,” Veal urged. “One less spark, one less wildfire.”

For additional information, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fire Safety page.  

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