The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds us during Wildfire Prevention Week that most of Michigan’s wildfires occur in April, May and June.

This week's rain lowers the short-term risk, but precautions must continue to be used to prevent wildfires in Michigan.

Burn permits are required prior to burning brush and debris in Michigan.

Residents in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula can obtain free burn permits.

Residents in southern Michigan should contact their local fire department or township office to see if burning is permitted in their area.

“One out of three wildfires in Michigan is started by someone who did not take proper precautions or obtain a burn permit before burning yard debris,” said Dan Laux, DNR fire prevention specialist. “Many people look outside and think the snow and spring rains have taken the edge off the wildfire danger, but that's not the case.

“The dried leaves, needles and brown grass from last year are still there. When the weather is warm, folks want to get out and clean up their yards. They don’t realize that all it takes is one strong wind gust catching an ember to ignite a wildfire.”

In addition to obtaining a burn permit, the DNR recommends people take the following steps to help prevent wildfires:

  • Pay attention to the fire danger in your area. Don’t burn debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush and other debris is a main cause of wildfires.
  • Consider composting or mulching yard debris rather than burning it.
  • Clear away flammable material surrounding the fire so it won’t creep into dry vegetation.
  • Keep campfires small, and do not leave before they are fully extinguished.
  • Douse fires with water, stir, and add more water until everything is wet.
  • Do not cover a campfire with soil; it may simply smolder before coming back to life.
  • Embers can reignite. Make sure they are out completely.

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