airplane over fire
A campfire in Crawford County ignited a blaze that spread to 3,000 acres last weekend. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

Hot and dry conditions have prompted many cities in Michigan to issue burn bans. Now, more municipalities are following suit. 

This story also appeared in Bridge Michigan

Last weekend, a small campfire on private property 4 miles southeast of Grayling devastated nearly 3,000 acres. Days later, smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted into Michigan, briefly causing Detroit to be listed as having some of the world’s worst air pollution.

Northern Michigan and some parts of the Upper Peninsula on Thursday are under a red flag warning, which means the combination of wind and low humidity pose a severe threat of fire.

michigan map showing places banning burning debris

Burning open debris is forbidden in northern Michigan due to dry conditions. The state has not had significant rain in one month. Burning debris is forbidden in brown counties. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

On Tuesday, the Battle Creek Fire Department prohibited open burning and recreational fires and bonfires due to hot and dry conditions until further notice. Outdoor grills can still be used, but officials advise residents to keep water and a fire extinguisher nearby. 

East Lansing issued a similar ban until further notice. Violators could face a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or a 90-day prison sentence.

Battle Creek officials said they will re-evaluate the burn ban after this weekend. Rain is forecast in much of Michigan on Sunday and Monday. 

“What we’re expecting this weekend and early next week will certainly help,” said Dan Cornish, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gaylord. “Some areas could get an inch (of rainfall) maybe even more through early next week.” 

Much of Michigan hasn’t had rain since early May.

Southeast Michigan could get up to a half of an inch of rainfall, which would put the region at the average amount of rainfall expected for this time of year. 

While other cities including SaginawMason, Dewitt and Bay City have issued their burn bans, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has not announced a statewide ban, citing the chance of rain this weekend.

“There’s not been a rule that’s been announced, but everyone’s got to be really smart,” Whitmer said this week.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is not issuing any burn permits, which allows people to burn yard waste and paper materials.

Also, the DNR has banned burning debris in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula due to the red flag warning. A significant amount of rain would be needed in order to lift that ban, Laurie Abel spokesperson for the DNR said. 

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has placed much of southeast Michigan under an air quality alert effective until Friday due to haze from Canadian wildfires that have affected the East Coast and upper Midwest. 

Air quality still remains unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

The Southeast East Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) announced that Thursday is an Ozone Action Day for southeast Michigan, which means residents should avoid mowing until evening, drive less and avoid gassing up cars during daytime hours.

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