LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Open burning permits will be suspended across the state, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in a Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Fire Services press release.

The move is a response to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus.

“We need to make sure our emergency response resources are available where they are needed at this time,” said Dan Laux, fire supervisor for the DNR Forest Resources Division. “Less open burning means less potential for escaped fires, and that means staff can deal with other, more critical needs.”

The suspension of burn permits also will help protect first responders and firefighters from infection by the novel coronavirus, because they often work closely together on the scene and when traveling to and from locations.

“It’s out of an abundance of caution that we want to support the statewide effort to fight COVID-19,” Laux said. “Suspending burn permits in much of the state means fewer people will be burning debris – the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Michigan.”

State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer agreed, adding: “This preventative approach to limiting wildland fires is important so that first responder can continue making medical calls during this health crisis.”

Burn permits in the southern Lower Peninsula are issued by local fire departments and governmental offices. In the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, permits are issued through the DNR’s website.

Open burning in some parts of the state may still be allowed in areas where the ground is still snow-covered.

Residents are encouraged to frequently check the website to see when restrictions are lifted.