A roaring campfire is one of the pleasures of summer. For much of Michigan right now, though, its just too dangerous. In the first burning ban of its kind since 1998, Gov. Jennifer Granholm Thursday issued an outdoor burning ban that covers 75 of Michigans 83 counties. It will remain in effect until the fire danger significantly declines. The need certainly is clear. Locally, a 3-acre grass fire caused by power lines burned Friday in Edenville. High winds pushed the flames as high as 5 feet. In the Upper Peninsulas Luce County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is just starting to feel it is gaining control of a forest fire that crews have been fighting since Aug. 2. A lightning strike is suspected of starting the blaze, which has burned 18,020 acres about 28 square miles. Gusts Friday of 35 mph brought down trees along the fire line, making conditions for firefighters even more hazardous, but Saturday the DNR said the fire was 65 percent contained. In this light, its easy to understand why some summer fun has to be curtailed. The restrictions dont affect all recreational fires, but a number of area activities do apply:
No burning flammable material, garbage, brush or leaves on forest lands or lands near forests.
No burning in a burn barrel.
No cigarette smoking outdoors near forest lands, except in certain areas.
No campfires, except those within containers at campgrounds that have permanent staff on site. They are not allowed at any state forest campgrounds or other similar unsupervised, rustic campgrounds.
Charcoal grills or propane or liquid-fueled camping stoves are exempt.
A violation is a misdemeanor. However, offenders could be held liable for the cost of fighting a fire if they start one. In the U.P., the cost is starting to climb into the millions of dollars. Not mentioned, but not to be forgotten, is the safety of firefighters. We urge everyone to heed the ban as long as it lasts, inconvenient though it might be. The costs of an out-of-control fire are simply too high.