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Hot, dry weather elevates fire danger in UP this weekend

Michigan’s warm, dry, weather has created a lot of beautiful days for outdoor activity — and a steeply increased risk of fire. That means taking extra care when camping, burning or using equipment outdoors, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Although there have been scattered rains, rainfall is below normal and it’s dry out there,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist. “People cause the vast majority of wildfires, so it’s critical to use common sense and be careful.”

Fire danger is elevated from the southwest corner of the state into the Upper Peninsula. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings for areas throughout the state where warm temperatures, low humidity and stronger winds are expected, including the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

On Thursday, the NWS office in Marquette issued a fire weather watch through this evening for Dickinson, Iron, Menominee, Marquette, Delta, Ontonagon, Houghton, Gogebic and Baraga counties, noting the expected combination of winds and low humidity.

Burn permits for yard debris will not be issued in many areas through the weekend; check Michigan.gov/BurnPermit in northern Michigan or contact local municipal or fire authorities in the southern Lower Peninsula.

Remember to take precautions with these activities —

— Do not throw cigarettes or matches out the window of a moving vehicle. They can ignite grass on the side of the road.

— Watch for dragging chains if pulling a trailer; they can create sparks.

— Always make sure campfires are out before leaving an area. Drown it with water, stir it and carefully feel to make sure it no longer emits heat. Always keep a water source and a shovel nearby whenever the fire is burning. Keep campfires within a ring 3 feet or less in diameter.

— Do not shoot fireworks into the woods or into dry grass or shrubs. Spray the entire area where fireworks are being used with water before and after use. Put used sparklers into a bucket of water, as wires can stay hot.

— When using ORVs or outdoor equipment, keep hot equipment away from dry grass or brush. Ride ORVs only on trails to avoid starting a grass fire.

DNR firefighters have responded so far this fire season to more than 227 fires that blackened more than 2,200 acres.

For more fire prevention tips, a map of fire danger and a link to check for burn permits, go online to Michigan.gov/FireManagement.

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