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Crews battle 130-acre wildfire at Camp Grayling in northern Michigan

Firefighters spent hours Wednesday battling a wildfire that burned an estimated 130 acres on state land in Crawford County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

The blaze was on land leased by Camp Grayling, a military training facility, and burned an area near Wakely Bridge Road. By 8:15 p.m., the fire was reported under control.

A DNR incident management team was activated about 4:45 p.m. and department firefighters joined Camp Grayling’s fire staff as well as local fire departments to douse the flames, according to the release.

Within an hour, the fire grew to about 120 acres, Crawford County Emergency Management & Homeland Security officials reported on Facebook. 

Camp Grayling used a Type 2 helicopter, which is used as initial attack resource that can carry up to nine firefighters and deliver up to 300 gallons of water to the fireline, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the nation's support center for wildland firefighting.

The U.S. Forest Service provided a Type 1 helicopter, the largest and fastest flying, and can carry 700 gallons of water or retardant, and two Fire Boss water tanker aircraft.

A DNR fixed-wing oversight plane also was used, state officials said.

Crews were expected to remain on the scene beyond 8:15 p.m. until the blaze was extinguished, said Crawford County Emergency Management & Homeland Security officials.

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There were no evacuations or threats to nearby structures, the DNR said.

DNR and crews at Camp Grayling, which had been hosting training for National Guard units from Michigan and Illinois this week, were expected to be cleaning up for several days, the department. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

State officials said drought conditions are present in many areas of Michigan, resulting in higher wildfire risk.

Last week, the DNR said fire danger was high across much of northern Michigan as temperatures rose and little rainfall fell.

"With conditions this dry, a lot of different things can set off fires," said Jeff Vasher, fire specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in a statement. "A spark from a campfire can do it. Heat from an ORV or equipment can do it. A chain dragging from a trailer can do it, or a downed power line."

Through Friday, the DNR said its firefighters have responded to more than 200 wildland fires with more than 2,000 acres burned so far in the 2021 season.

In April, a controlled burn in Iosco County on the Huron Shores Ranger District of the Huron-Manistee National Forest led to the Brittle Fire, which reached more than 6,000 acres.