More than 100 residents and landowners gathered at McMillan Township Hall in Newberry on Sunday to hear the latest information from DNR officials on the status of the Duck Lake wildfire in Luce County.
New GPS data show that the fire is now estimated to cover 22,204 acres as of Sunday evening. Forty-eight percent of the fire area is contained.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 80 structures were confirmed to be completely destroyed. A total of 170 structures are nearby, of which DNR officials assessed 100. At Sunday's meeting, some landowners found out whether or not their property suffered damage.
The Luce County Emergency Management Team, DNR conservation officers, and firefighters will continue to assess damage. Concerned parties should phone 211 (Upper Peninsula residents) and 1-800-338-1119 (all others) to register their structure location and contact information. As the structure inventory and damage assessment are completed, the involved parties will be contacted by the DNR and informed of the status of their property.
The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. There are currently 40 miles of fire line. Of that fire line, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (includes County Road 500), and 21 miles is uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.
Saturday, firefighters made progress on securing portions of the fire perimeter especially along the northwest flank from Lake Superior south to County Road 414 and at the south end of the fire. North of Pike Lake the fire has extended east to County Road 500, with the fire crossing the road in two locations. Fire lines in this area are currently holding.
South of Pike Lake the fire is well west of County Road 500. Air water drops have knocked down hot spots from Little Lake Harbor south to Culhane Lake. Structure protection is high priority and is being closely monitored from the air. The entire east side of the fire, from Little Lake Harbor south, is active and with expected westerly/northwesterly winds, extreme fire conditions persist. Flame lengths within the fire perimeter are still 10 to 15 feet. Potential for blow-up conditions continue.
During the night, three VFD fire engines patrolled the lines and continued suppression of hot spots.
Sunday's incident objectives are:
-- To provide for public and firefighter safety
-- To provide for structure protection
-- To keep the fire north of M-123
-- To keep fire in vicinity of County Rd. 500
-- To hold fire inside constructed dozer line on northwest flank
-- To hold the fire inside burnout operations on the northeast flank
-- To continue gathering GPS data on completed line.
Sunday's fire suppression activities have focused on holding existing secure line, fortifying established line put in on Saturday, and extending fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks. A burn out operation on Saturday to create black line along Co. Rd. 500 on the northeast flank will be monitored and mopped up where needed to secure this portion of the flank. Air operations will be focusing efforts on the east and south west flanks and structure protection.
An evacuation order is still in effect for the area from Pike Lake east to County Road 500 and north to Little Lake Harbor. Residents are advised to be vigilant and evacuate.
County Road 414 east from the intersection with County Road 410, and County Road 500 from M-123 north to Little Lake Harbor are closed. Officials ask that nobody enter the area.