Cooler Weather Aids Duck Lake Fire Suppression Efforts

DNR Reports Fire Containment at 57 Percent

The Department of Natural Resources today reported that cooler temperatures Wednesday evening allowed the fire crews to make significant progress on the Duck Lake Fire in the Upper Peninsula’s Luce County. Most recent GPS data show the fire size at 21,458 acres with 57 percent containment.

Crews have constructed fireline across all of Division G in the southeast corner of the fire and roughly one-half of the fire’s west side. Saw crews also made headway in removing hazard trees.

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 latest estimate on structure loss is that there are 138 properties within the perimeter of the fire; 138 sites have been inspected to this point, with one remaining that had no fire number. A total of 132 structures have been lost, with a breakdown as follows:

46 homes/cabins
23 garages
35 sheds/outbuildings
26 campers
1 store
1 motel

Landowners (including in-state and out-of-state residents) who have property located within the fireline should call 211 (Upper Peninsula residents) or 1-800-338-1119 (all others) to register their structure location and contact information. Officials do not have contact information for all properties within the fire perimeter, so it is very important that all landowners make contact. As the structure inventory and damage assessments are completed, the involved parties will be contacted and informed of the status of their property.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s Lower Falls campground and Upper Falls viewing area and visitor center reopened to the public Wednesday, May 30. Hiking trails on the north side of M-123, including the North Country Trail, will remain closed until further notice.

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.

Today’s incident objectives are to:

Provide for public and firefighter safety
Provide for structure protection
Fell snags around homes and along roads in Divisions A & B (northeast part of the fire)
Finish line construction toward division breaks
Identify hazard trees around structures and roads for saw crews
Continue getting GPS data on completed line in all divisions

Saw crews will work on felling hazard trees along the road between Pike Lake and Little Lake. 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 able to recover the bucket on Wednesday.

Air operations will focus on structure protection and supporting fireline construction in the wet, inaccessible areas of the fire.

Warmer weather with mostly sunny skies is expected today. There was frost last night, and crews had to protect the pumps on their fire engines from freezing. Temperatures today are expected to be in the high 50s to low 60s. Minimum humidity is expected to be between 37 percent and 52 percent, with higher humidities closer to the lake shore. Winds have switched to northwest this morning, and should remain steady at 6 to 9 miles per hour into the evening, with gusts of 10 to 20 miles per hour.

A total of 227 personnel – including 53 overhead personnel – are involved with fire suppression efforts. People, equipment and agencies fighting the fire include:

Four conservation officers and a sergeant are on duty around the clock
17 DNR fire engines and 3 Wisconsin DNR fire engines
10 Michigan DNR and 2 Wisconsin DNR bulldozers
1 US Forest Service helicopter
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, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and UPCAP (211).

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.

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