Wildfire near Stephan Bridge Road damages 120 acres, one outbuilding
More than 70 homes near Grayling were evacuated on Thursday, May 21, as firefighters battled a fire in privately owned jack pine stands by M-72 East, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The M-72 Fire, which covered more than 100 acres, was reported Thursday evening along M-72 between Stephan Bridge Road and S. Horseshoe Trail, about eight miles east of Grayling, according to the DNR.
The wildfire was reported at about 5:19 p.m. on May 21 by an individual driving by and seeing a fire on the ground and beginning to enter into the trees, fire department officials said.
Graying City Fire Department and DNR units were dispatched.
Chief Russell H. Strohpaul Jr. coordinated the responses by Grayling Fire Department and surrounding departments in conjunction with the DNR fire division.
At that time the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Grayling Department of Public Safety, and Michigan State Police began evacuation of 75 homes in the area.
Coordination was then made by Crawford County Emergency Manager Doug Pratt and the Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing to open the Grayling High School for all evacuees from the incident.
Fire departments from Beaver Creek Township and South Branch Township also responded to assist in the firefighting efforts along with the units on scene. Federal U.S. Forest Service Air Tanker units were deployed to provide water suppression.
The Frederic Fire Department was called to cover the City of Grayling and Higgins Township Fire Department to cover South Branch Township while those departments were battling the blaze. Mobile Medical Response ambulances were also dispatched for medical coverage for all the fire units on the scene.
At 8:43 p.m. the DNR units declared that the fire was contained and it was reported that the only structure that was impacted was one non-occupied outbuilding.
Due to a quick firefighting response and coordinated incident command the fire was contained to only 120 acres, fire department officials said
At 9 p.m. all evacuees were allowed to return to their homes and there are no reported injuries at this time. The Red Cross had 100 rooms available for any residents that were displaced by this incident and only two families due to current medical conditions and the presence of lingering smoke are utilizing the Red Cross relief efforts.
For the next two to three days the DNR fire units will be on scene monitoring the situation and performing mop up operations. There will still be lingering smoke and small flames in the area and citizens are encouraged to stay away from the area due to emergency units on scene.
“Despite recent rain in the northern Lower Peninsula, after a few days of dry conditions, sunny skies and warmer temperatures, the fire danger in Grayling was high Thursday. Jack pine is one of the most prevalent tree species in the Grayling area and its seeds are released by fire, making it very fire-prone. It was this combination of weather and fuels that led to the M-72 Fire,” according to the DNR.