Northern Michigan wildfire continues to burn on day three, now 78% contained

WEXFORD COUNTY, MI – A wildfire that engulfed hundreds of acres of state forest land continues to burn in northern Michigan for the third day as firefighters work to contain it.

As of Thursday afternoon, May 27, the Colfax fire in County Wexford was 78% under control and burned about 378 acres – a reduction from the previous estimate of 425 acres, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Michigan.

RELATED: Wildfire burns 425 acres in northern Michigan as firefighters continue the fight

MNR estimates that fire suppression and containment efforts, which began Tuesday from the ground and the air, saved 86 residences and 65 outbuildings from the blaze – no structures were reported damaged or lost. Losses reported from the fire include a conventional trailer, utility trailer, backhoe loader tools and a snow blower.

Aerial view of an area of ​​state forest burnt in the Colfax fire in Wexford County, Michigan on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The fire ignited at a private Scots pine plantation on Tuesday, May 25. investigation.Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The fire was first reported on Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. It ignited in a private Scots pine plantation and spread to nearby state forest lands, burning aspens, red pines and spruce trees. The cause remains under investigation.

Today, day three of the fire, crews are focused on establishing containment lines, monitoring and patrolling the fire area, cleaning up and cutting down dangerous trees. Monitoring will continue over the next few days. Currently, 25 MNR firefighters and an MNR incident management team are assigned to the fire.

Rain that is expected to fall in the area this afternoon, night and Friday would help with fire suppression efforts.

The Colfax fire is located approximately five miles northwest of Manton and 21 miles southeast of Traverse City; it is east of road 31, west of road 33, north of road 12 and mainly south of road 8. The perimeter is estimated at 6.3 miles, of which 5.9 miles are contained. Firefighters continue to fight to contain the remaining 0.4 miles of the line of fire.

While the roads are open, MNR encourages the public to avoid the fire area. Hazards include dead and standing trees that could fall on the roads and low visibility due to low-level smoke.

Colfax fire

Smoke from wildfires hangs over state forest lands scorched by the Colfax fire in Wexford County, Mich. On Thursday, May 27, 2021. The blaze ignited at a private pine plantation sylvestres on Tuesday, May 25. The cause remains under investigation.Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Residents were evacuated from their homes on Tuesday as a precautionary measure as MNR, the US Forest Service, Michigan State Police, local emergency management teams and more than a dozen emergency services fire volunteers were fighting the forest fire. The first day’s efforts included tankers that dropped 42,000 gallons of water on the blaze. A small amount of rain, about a tenth of an inch, also helped put out the blaze.

By 10 p.m. Tuesday, the fire was 60% under control. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, it was 70% content. As the fire was under control on Wednesday, fewer resources were allocated to the scene; resources were pulled back again on Thursday as progress continued.

Colfax fire

An aerial view shows the flames and smoke from the Colfax fire in County Wexford on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Spurred on by hot temperatures, dry conditions and wind, the fire burned 425 acres by Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning when it was 70% content. .Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Although the cause of the blaze remains unknown, the fire risk increased on Tuesday due to warm temperatures, dry conditions and winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour across mid-Michigan. These factors are believed to have fueled the spread of the wildfire.

MNR issues burning permits daily to Michigan.gov/BurnPermit, which indicates whether or not burning is permitted in counties and townships. Anyone wishing to burn debris should also check local weather conditions and fire danger levels beforehand.

Other safety tips include burning debris in barrels with metal screens and cleaning up vegetation around the burn area. Always have a source of water nearby when burning and never leave a fire unattended. Completely extinguish fires after burning.

There is no burning permit for Wexford County today, as well as several other counties in central and northern Michigan.

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