Plan ahead when burning debris or starting a bonfire

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As warmer weather heads to Michigan, more people will be outside cleaning up their yards or maybe enjoying the first bonfire of the season.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to remind residents to check with local officials if planning to burn leaves or other yard debris.

Although campfires are permitted during times of increased fire danger, it is important to be cautious with all fires.

“Though fires can happen just about any time of year, most wildfires in Michigan occur in April, May and June,” said DNR fire supervisor Don Klingler. “The dead grass and leaves from last year are still very dry, and it only takes one escaped spark to start a wildfire.”

This year the DNR has already responded to 23 wildfires that have burned 180 acres.

Burn permits are required when the ground is not snow-covered and residents can check for local burn permit status online or by calling 866-922-2876.

A few tips to help prevent wildfires include not burning debris when conditions are dry or windy, clearing away flammable material surrounding a fire, always have water available when burning, make sure embers are out completely, and consider composting or mulching yard debris rather than burning it.

Although it is rare, the Michigan governor can issue a “burn ban” when fire danger is extremely high.

In regards to prescribed burns, Klinger says the DNR wants “the public to know that prescribed burns are carefully planned, step by step, in consultation with local fire officials. We also closely monitor weather conditions, so that a prescribed burn can be called off at the last possible minute, if necessary.”

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