Michigan Forest Fire Forces Evacuations in Northern Lower Peninsula

BEAR LAKE, Mich. (AP) -- Forest fires have forced evacuations in the northwestern Lower Peninsula, including homes near Bear Lake in Manistee County and a campsite in Grand Traverse County.

No injuries were reported, and firefighters had both fires under control by late Thursday afternoon.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources warned of serious fire risks in certain areas across the state.

``Much of northern Michigan will experience high and very high wildfire potential until those areas receive significant rainfall,'' the DNR said in a news release. ``Dried grass and pine needles easily ignite, creating conditions for fires to spread rapidly.''

The Manistee County fire apparently started after someone lost control of a fire while burning trash in a barrel, police told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

State police said they were not certain how many homes were evacuated or how many acres burned, but they said the fire traveled two miles before it was mostly extinguished about 6 p.m.

In Grand Traverse County, many people who thought they would be spending a beautiful summer afternoon at the Whitewater Township campground were camped out on the side of the road after an evacuation because of a fire.

Grand Traverse Rural Fire Chief Bill Sedlacek said he believed fireworks started the fire about 2:30 p.m.