NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) — Rain lent a hand Sunday, May 27th to the 230 crew members battling a wildfire that has consumed 31.6 square miles of forest in the eastern part of Michigan’s sparsely populated Upper Peninsula.
The fire in Luce County, near Newberry, was about 48 percent contained at midday Sunday, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The agency said it estimates the fire has covered 20,255 acres, down slightly from Saturday’s figure. Spokesman Dean Wilson said the new number is based on more accurate measurements.
Wilson said Sunday’s rain was helping efforts to control the Duck Lake Fire, which started with a lightning strike Wednesday, May 23rd.
The blaze has burned a stretch of forest that touches Lake Superior, about 75 miles northeast of the Mackinac Bridge. The area is remote and near inaccessible in places.
“We’re making very good progress today,” Wilson said. About 230 people have been involved in fighting the fire, including 40 involved in aerial operations.
Fewer than 100 people have been evacuated and only about six structures have been destroyed. There are no reports of injuries.
“Today’s fire suppression activities will focus on holding existing secure line, fortifying established line put in (Saturday), and extending fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks,” the DNR said in a statement Sunday.
The south end of the fire was 14 miles north of Newberry and seven miles west of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds, the DNR said.
Mop-up operations have been under way in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Schoolcraft County, where a fired burned about 3,400 acres, or about 5.3 square miles. That blaze was reported Monday, May 21st, and also blamed on a lightning strike.
Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in Luce and Schoolcraft counties. The declaration permitted authorities to order evacuations, establish a fireworks ban in the two affected counties and ban outdoor burning in 49 counties.