2018-07-15 / Front Page

Countywide burn ban issued

Dry conditions warrant extra precuations
810-452-2640 • jhogan@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER COUNTY — Owing to dry conditions and a weather forecast that doesn’t offer hope of any significant rainfall going into early next week, the Lapeer County Fire Association has issued a countywide burn ban effective until further notice.

Don Bissett, chief of the Goodland Township Fire Dept. and chair of the Lapeer County Fire Association, said by a unanimous vote Wednesday evening fire chiefs agreed to institute the ban. A burn ban means no burn permits will be issued to residents, and homeowners need to use extreme caution with any source of heat and open flame such as use of backyard barbecues (whether charcoal or propane).

Residents are also urged to take extra precautions to prevent accidentally starting fires, such as not using allterrain vehicles, lawn mowers or other outdoor machinery. Things like a trailer chain dragging on pavement also can create sparks. Residents are reminded not to park their vehicles over tall grass or vegetation that may come in contact with the vehicle’s hot catalytic converter or exhaust pipes.

The last time Lapeer County was under a countywide burn ban was 2016. In the last 20 years there has been a countywide burn ban only twice.

Bissett said it’s up to local fire chiefs and jurisdictions whether to allow camp fires at established campgrounds that may have burn pits and fire rings at their facilities.

Lapeer Fire & Rescue Chief Terry Kluge said the burn ban applies to the Water Tower Travel Trailer Park on N. Lapeer Road. “This is the only place in the city of Lapeer where open fires are allowed, but the ban applies there as well. If there is to be no burning everywhere else in our fire service area I wasn’t going to allow it there either,” Kluge said.

He continued, “We’re kind of sitting on a tinderbox right now. We’ve been lucky so far, but I’m really concerned that a small fire could get out of control real fast under these current conditions.”

Local fire departments have responded to a handful of grass and brush fires over the last couple of weeks.

While spared of any recent calls, Metamora Township Fire Chief Dave Eady said conditions are ripe for fires and supported the ban. “We feel it’s dry enough to do it. It’s going to take a couple of good soaking rains before things green up again and reduce the fire risk. People have to realize even if they get one of the spotty rain showers it’s probably not going to be enough to soak the ground,” said Eady.

Todd Farrell, supervisor of the Metamora- Hadley State Recreation Area, said the way the Hadley Township campground is set up with setbacks and fire rings there generally isn’t a fire risk at the 214-campsite park. “If I go from experience it didn’t affect us the last time they had a ban because the design of our fire pits and rings, but we always remind people not to leave their fires unattended and be careful the fires don’t get too big to send embers flying in the air,” Farrell said.

Laura McCauley, manager of the 60-site Hilltop Campground on Pine Drive in Elba Township (on Lake Nepessing), doesn’t expect any issues at her facility as a result of the burn ban. Campsites at the facility are equipped with metal fire rings.

“We had a lot of firewood bundled up for the Fourth of July but sold very little of it because it’s been so hot and people aren’t having fires. It’s not a huge park and we patrol for quiet time. It’s not the kind of place where things get out of control.”

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