BIG PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Fire investigators are trying to figure out what sparked a wildfire near White Cloud on Saturday afternoon.
More than 15 acres were burned, according to an incident commander with the U.S. Forest Service.
Zack Gross lives right down the street from where the wildfire broke out.
“Newaygo County is in a fire zone, you’re not supposed to start fires on these kinds of days,” Gross said. “Because see what happens. People lose stuff you don’t want to lose.”
He told News 8 when he saw smoke clouds over the forest, he biked over and was shocked at what he found.
“Since I lived up here for two years, there has not been a fire like this before,” Gross said. “I don’t know what to say.”
While the investigation is underway into what started the wildfire around 2 p.m., Big Prairie Township Fire Chief Jesse Alonzo has a good idea where it started.
“A forestry investigator is on scene looking into what started it,” Alonzo said. “We do believe the point of origin is by that camper.”
“Our first initial attack was to protect the exposures by (the camper) and all (its) belongings before we started,” Alonzo added.
A Forest Service helicopter flew back and forth through the smoke clouds to retrieve water and spray it over the wildfire.
There are a few homes outside the forest, but no one was evacuated.
“We were keeping an eye down that way, if it was getting any closer to that house we would’ve evacuated that house,” Alonzo said. “There’s (another) house over here, and the way the wind direction went, they weren’t in any danger.”
On an especially busy day for Big Prairie Township Fire, multiple other departments were on scene to give an extra hand.
“There was also other incidents going around the county too, so we were pretty limited on manpower,” Alonzo said. “So we had to reach out to the neighboring county, and they got a crew over here.”
The fire chief said wind gusts caused the fire to flare up, but crews were able to form a perimeter around the fire and prevent it from getting any worse.