1. #1
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    Post Michigan Wildfires

    NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - An out-of-control fire in mostly
    uninhabited backwoods grew to 14,300 acres Monday, fanned by
    breezes that draped an acrid layer of smoke over this village in
    the eastern Upper Peninsula.
    No injuries were reported and no structures had been damaged,
    although some evacuations had been ordered and authorities warned
    about 125 residents at a community meeting west of town they could
    be next.
    "People are starting to get worried," said retiree Jan Groner,
    61, sitting beside her husband in a sport utility vehicle at a
    roadblock on state highway 123, which remained closed.
    In Newberry, several miles south, knots of people stood on
    sidewalks as evening fell, looking in the direction of the fire.
    "They won't let it get this far," said Brian Ranger, 43. "The
    fire itself isn't a threat to us, but the problem is the smoke -
    especially for people with asthma and the senior citizens."
    The fire started last Thursday in the Sleeper Lake area of Luce
    County, probably ignited by lightning, the Michigan Department of
    Natural Resources said. It was about 8 miles long and 3.5 miles
    wide.
    The southern edge was about six miles north of Newberry, the
    county seat, with a year-round population of 2,700 where logging, a
    state prison and a hospital are leading employers. Tahquamenon
    Falls State Park, about 10 miles east of the fire, remained open.
    As in much of the Upper Peninsula, the local population rises in
    summer as seasonal residents occupy cabins scattered across thick
    forests and tourists arrive for camping and fishing. At least two
    sportsmen's clubs are in the area.
    Sparse rainfall, temperatures in the 80s and erratic winds were
    posing challenges for firefighters, said Jason Tokar, a DNR
    forester who spent several days battling a 40-acre fire a couple of
    miles from the bigger Sleeper Lake blaze.
    "It's awfully dry," said Tokar, his face, hands and yellow
    jump suit blackened with soot. "There's a lot of brown vegetation,
    and even the green stuff doesn't have a lot of moisture content."
    Another problem: The flames were igniting layers of peat beneath
    the boggy surface.
    "That's where it gets tough to put it out," DNR spokeswoman
    Ann Wilson said. "So we're going to be spending a lot of time and
    dumping a lot more water before we get this completely
    extinguished."
    A more immediate goal was simply containing the Sleeper Lake
    fire, which remained out of control Monday night.
    Three Air National Guard helicopters from Camp Grayling swooped
    over the southern edge throughout the day, dumping 700-gallon loads
    of water onto the flames. Two "water bomber" planes from
    Minnesota assisted. Two more helicopters were expected Tuesday,
    Wilson said.
    The water kicked up smoke that drifted over Newberry when
    breezes started blowing from the northwest, sending the fire toward
    the village.
    But authorities expected the wind to shift in the opposite
    direction Tuesday - toward county road 407, where some people in
    the Pine Stump Junction area already have been evacuated. Crews
    planned to dig a line to protect houses along the rural road.
    If the line doesn't contain the flames, a "backfire" may be
    ignited to deprive the main fire of fuel, Wilson said. If all else
    fails, more evacuations will be ordered.
    "The winds are just completely unpredictable," said Mary
    Detloff, another DNR spokeswoman.
    About 180 personnel were on the lines or providing support,
    representing the DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, the village of
    Newberry, the Red Cross and several area townships. The Wisconsin
    DNR was sending six tractor plows, pumpers and other equipment.
    DNR officials said the public may call toll-free for updates at
    877-261-3473.
    ---
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    Post August 7th

    NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - Brad Slawick didn't argue with police who
    delivered the prepare-to-evacuate notice. Not with a 26-square-mile
    wildfire bearing down on him.
    "We've got it insured," Slawick said with a backward glance at
    his house just off Luce County Road 407. "If it burns, it burns."
    It didn't, as firefighters rushed bulldozers and other equipment
    to the area and opened a clearing between the flames and dwellings
    along the two-lane paved road in the eastern Upper Peninsula.
    Not a single structure had been lost and no injuries were
    reported as of Wednesday morning, although the fire remained out of
    control in boggy Lake Superior State Forest.
    While acknowledging they were nowhere near extinguishing the
    17,000-acre blaze, authorities said they had checked its
    northwesterly advance at least temporarily after flames surged to
    within a half-mile of Route 407. The road was closed after roughly
    200 people were ordered to leave their homes along a seven-mile
    stretch.
    The community of Pine Stump Junction, which lay in the fire's
    path, was spared.
    "The aerial tankers and choppers really pounded the front line
    with water," said Ann Wilson, spokeswoman for the Michigan
    Department of Natural Resources.
    Only about 10 percent of the fire was contained, but crews had
    managed to encircle most of it with firebreak openings that will
    give equipment better access to the interior, Wilson said.
    "We're making progress," DNR forester Jason Tokar said,
    managing a weary grin after battling fires in the area since late
    last week.
    The firefighting team also got a minor boost from an hour-long
    rain shower at dusk Tuesday - the first since the fire broke out
    five days earlier.
    "We can't expect one little rainstorm to work miracles, but
    we'll take anything we can get right now," Wilson said.
    Crews were anticipating a wind shift Wednesday that would send
    the flames back in a southerly direction. In preparation, they
    completed a wide firebreak opening on the southern perimeter that
    would prevent the fire from threatening the village of Newberry,
    the county seat.
    Personnel from the Michigan DNR, U.S. Forest Service, local
    volunteer fire departments and the Wisconsin DNR composed the
    roughly 220-person force battling the fire, believed to have been
    ignited by lightning.
    Air National Guard helicopters based at Camp Grayling and planes
    on loan from Minnesota continued dumping water from above.
    A section of State Route 123 south and east of the fire was
    reopened, but a previous evacuation order for areas near the road
    stayed in effect. The DNR urged owners of backcountry cabins - and
    curious onlookers - to stay away. A Red Cross shelter was opened in
    a local school.
    The DNR also closed four state forest campgrounds: Old
    Headquarters, Perch Lake, Two Hearted and High Bridge. Nearby
    Muskellonge Lake State Park remained open, benefiting from its
    secure location between its namesake lake and Lake Superior.
    In the evacuation zone along Route 407, police hurried from door
    to door Tuesday, warning occupants to leave. Most complied
    willingly, despite a few complaints.
    "My business is shot for the day - or several days at the rate
    it's going," said Jeff Ross, owner of Winter Haven Motel in Pine
    Stump Junction.
    Across the road, loggers who had been working in the forest
    secured their machinery on trailers and took off.
    "It's the smart thing to do," said Don Barnum of McMillan, a
    member of the crew. "The fire's in the mush right now, but once it
    hits the timber, watch out."
    Roy Grunow stood in the motel parking lot, watching a stream of
    recreational vehicles and pickups with trailers heading for safety.
    He said he feared for the summer home he was building near the
    Eurich cabin.
    "That's my retirement right there," said Grunow, a school bus
    driver from San Francisco. "If it goes ... what a disaster."
    Myra Eurich strolled through her cabin overlooking the Two
    Hearted River just outside the evacuation area, the smell of smoke
    heavy in the air.
    "It's a special place - very," Eurich said, her gaze running
    over knotty pine walls, the glass-topped coffee table made with
    rocks from Lake Superior beaches, the stuffed mountain goat atop
    the stone fireplace. "We're just praying it doesn't come this
    far."
    ---
    On the Net:
    -Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
    http://www.michigan.gov/dnr
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    Post

    During the 1920s, Peter Williams' father built a hunting camp in
    the Luce County backwoods that became a treasured family retreat
    for five generations.
    Now, the original cabin and three other buildings are gone -
    destroyed by one of the biggest forest fires on record in Michigan.
    "It was just a miserable loss to have," Williams, 72, of
    Gladstone, said in a phone interview Thursday. "We lost the old
    stuff, all the memories. It's sad."
    The week-old wildfire covered 28 square miles, largely within
    swampy Lake Superior State Forest in the eastern Upper Peninsula.
    It gained little ground Thursday as winds stilled. But with dry
    breezes on the way, crews were bracing for another flareup.
    "It's still burning, but it isn't moving at this moment, said
    Ann Wilson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural
    Resources. "If anything, it's just crawling along."
    No injuries have been reported, and the Williams buildings are
    the only ones known to have been lost.
    Based on aerial observations, the DNR had described the camp as
    a single, vacant structure.
    Actually, Williams said, four structures burned and the family
    had still been using them on weekends and other occasions: two log
    cabins, a woodshed and an outhouse.
    Also destroyed were furniture, televisions, cookstoves and other
    items, he said.
    Firefighters managed to save a newer cabin the family is
    constructing on the grounds, and a separate bathroom and sauna.
    The camp is near Murphy Creek, about 10 miles north of Newberry.
    Williams said the property, considered high-risk because of its
    remote location, wasn't insured. He said he particularly regretted
    losing irreplaceable possessions such as a logbook with family
    history and photos.
    "You can't blame the firefighters," he said. "You have to
    commend them for all the bravery and the work they do."
    The 220-person team used the momentary lull Thursday to build up
    lines around the fire while continuing to pour on water from ground
    pumpers and Air National Guard helicopters.
    Firefighters also dug wells along the outer edge, providing
    water sources closer to the flames. Previously, they had to drive
    depleted tankers to lakes and hydrants to fill up, Wilson said.
    Personnel venturing into the woods were warned to beware of
    "snags" - partially burned, weakened trees.
    "They tend to tumble ... if the wind picks up, water gets
    dumped on them, or they could just fall over for no reason at
    all," Wilson said.
    The 18,100-acre fire is the third-largest in Michigan since the
    late 1800s. It was only about 10 percent contained.
    Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an emergency declaration Wednesday
    for Luce County, authorizing other state agencies to provide
    personnel, equipment and supplies.
    U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, a Menominee Democrat, visited fire crews
    Thursday and promised to seek any needed federal resources.
    "This is probably the worst fire in the Upper Peninsula in
    recent memory, and the emergency responders are doing a terrific
    job fighting the fire," Stupak said in a statement.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
    http://www.michigan.gov/dnr
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  4. #4
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    I've been through that area of Michigan before. I hate to hear about a wildfire up there. Only 10% contained? Wow they have a long way to go. I hope that nobody gets hurt

  5. #5
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    Post August 13th

    PINE STUMP JUNCTION, Mich. (AP) - The cost of fighting the
    29-square-mile Sleeper Lake wildfire in remote, swampy Upper
    Peninsula forest land is $1.9 million and rising, and the blaze
    probably won't be fully contained until mid-September, officials
    say.
    The fire remained 50 percent contained Monday, and some of the
    221 firefighters were able to work on mopping up the fire in areas
    where the perimeter is secure, said John Pilon, spokesman for the
    Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
    The fire jumped the control lines in two spots Monday, but crews
    were able to beat it back, he said. Pilon said that overall, the
    blaze remained relatively stable during the day.
    "So much is contingent on the weather," Pilon said from the
    DNR's field office in Newberry. "They're looking at containment of
    this fire probably mid-September."
    Authorities already have spent $1.9 million on the blaze, Pilon
    said. He described the effort as "very difficult," with many area
    accessible only to hand crews.
    "If we're lucky, the weather will cooperate and we'll get some
    heavy rains that will really knock it out," he said.
    A lightning strike is suspected of starting the wildfire Aug. 2.
    The fire is in the Lake Superior State Forest in Luce County, about
    55 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie and about 300 miles north of
    Detroit.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
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  6. #6
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    Michigan DNR website today states the Sleeper Lakes fire is still about 50% contained. They are using 5 Mich. National Gaurd helos with bambi buckets, water bombers from Minnesota and a fire crew of about 230. The site states it will likely be weeks before this fire is completly controlled.
    Be Safe
    GOD BLESS the U.S.A. and FDNY
    Dan

  7. #7
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    Post August 19th

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A massive wildfire in the eastern Upper
    Peninsula is burning up more than a good-sized chunk of the Lake
    Superior State Forest.
    It's also consuming a Michigan Department of Natural Resources
    firefighting budget that was in bad shape even before this month's
    blaze.
    The Sleeper Lake fire, one of the largest in state history,
    already has cost more than $3 million to fight and the DNR likely
    will need an extra appropriation from the state Legislature to pay
    the final bills.
    The 18,000-acre blaze has consumed huge amounts of resources,
    leaving the DNR only skeleton crews to deal with a half-dozen less
    serious wildfires burning in the Upper Peninsula last week.
    The state has pulled employees from its timber harvesting
    program to help battle the Sleeper Lake wildfire centered about six
    miles north of Newberry. While crews have made substantial progress
    containing the blaze, they likely will be on the job for at least
    weeks longer.
    "It's too much of a moving target to know how long it will
    take," said Sharon Schafer, the DNR's budget officer. "Even once
    the fire is out, you have to do a lot with cleanup."
    The Sleeper Lake fire comes as the agency already had used up
    much of its $11 million firefighting budget for the fiscal year
    that ends Sept. 30. Unusually dry conditions in Michigan have led
    to a very active wildfire season, with more than 320 fires having
    burned more than 21,000 acres as of the start of last week.
    State officials credit the generosity of U.P. residents and
    businesses with saving the state some expenses. Restaurants have
    donated lunches and dinners for firefighting crews. Other merchants
    and citizens have brought in cookies, beef jerky and bottled water.
    "We all do what we can," said Janet Linck, owner of the Island
    Grille, a Newberry restaurant. "It has all kind of snowballed. The
    bigger the fire gets, the more people want to help."
    The effort has been complicated by the fire's remote location,
    which has increased costs. Marshy land with few roads make getting
    to the flames difficult in some places, requiring additional
    equipment including tankers, helicopters and airplanes.
    The state is doing its best to keep any other blazes from
    breaking out. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has issued an outdoor burning
    ban for most of Michigan in an effort to prevent people from
    setting blazes by accident.
    Lightning has sparked the majority of the Michigan wildfires.
    It's thought that lightning touched off the Sleeper Lake fire in
    Luce County on Aug. 2.
    Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers say they're open to
    serious consideration of a supplemental spending bill to cover the
    DNR's expenses, despite a tight state budget in which shortfalls
    were resolved with cuts and accounting changes, including delayed
    payments to Michigan's 15 public universities.
    "It's obviously something that will need to be considered,"
    said Matt Marsden, a spokesman for Republican Senate Majority
    Leader Mike Bishop, who visited the U.P. last week to discuss the
    region's economy.
    More than 200 firefighters and other personnel are battling the
    blaze. Crews have laid more than 7,000 feet of irrigation pipe to
    draw water from nearby lakes and streams. There also are teams to
    run water trucks, bulldozers and fire detection planes.
    The Michigan National Guard, American Red Cross, Salvation Army,
    local fire departments and firefighters from other states have
    helped out.
    Prisoners at Newberry Correctional Facility have helped by
    making sandwiches for the work crews, and the facility also has
    donated mattresses, paper towels and other items. The Red Cross
    runs a center stocked with donated supplies to help firefighters
    and those affected by the fire.
    ---
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    Post Sept 3rd

    State employees, equipment leaving Upper Peninsula fire

    NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - A few areas have continued to burn in an
    Upper Peninsula forest fire that started more than a month ago. But
    officials say state employees and equipment from out of the region
    were expected to leave this week.
    The fire in Luce County north of Newberry remains about 95
    percent contained. It's covered more than 18,000 acres and has cost
    $6 million to fight.
    Department of Natural Resources officials say local crews were
    expected to continue to fight the fire.
    The fire is believed to have started August 2nd with a lightning
    strike. It's within the Lake Superior State Forest about 55 miles
    west of Sault Sainte Marie.
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