CLYDE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A wildfire that burned around 250 acres near Fennville Wednesday afternoon highlights the high fire risk West Michigan faces during the spring.
The fire broke out near 113th Avenue in the Allegan State Game Area near Ely Lake Campground in Clyde Township. Between 200 and 250 acres were affected, according to Paul Rogers, a fire prevention specialist with Michigan DNR.
From the time when the snow melts in the spring through June 1, fire experts say the conditions are prime for wildfires and field fires.
“Almost 75% of our fires that occur yearly in the state of Michigan happen this time of year,” said Rogers. “Because all the grasses are cured from last year that are laying out, all the leaves are on the ground, and those are all very dry right now.”
Rogers said when you combine dry conditions with winds, a small fire can become large in an instant. Winds were a major factor for first responders Wednesday, as they fought the significant woods fire at Allegan State Game Area.
“We’ve got 30 mph winds. The fires, they just race through these fields,” Rogers said.
The incident caused a large response with at least four different fire departments assisting — Clyde Township, Fennville Area, Ganges Township and Lee Township. Crews from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources were also on scene.
Rogers said when dealing with a wildfire, every second counts.
“The faster they grow, the harder they are to contain, they create their own wind, their own influences, and they dry ahead of the fire. So we try in there as quickly as we can and get around,” Rogers said.
So far, the cause of Wednesday’s is undetermined but Rogers said due to a red flag warning, people shouldn’t have been burning debris. He said taking simple steps during wildfire season can prevent a disaster.
“If you do burn, make sure you have a hose out. One of the biggest things we hear when we come to a fire is, ‘I never thought it would grow that fast.’ So always have a hose available and make sure if (fire departments are) even issuing burning permits,” Rogers said.
As of Wednesday night, Rogers said the fire was about 90% contained.
Six homes were evacuated out of precaution but no injuries were reported.
Firefighters have not said what caused the fire.