Sleeper Lakes – Media Information Sheet
12 Midnight. – August 5, 2007
The Sleeper Lakes fire pushed past the 10,000 acre mark overnight and this morning, and is now estimated to be over 12,000 acres. Located six miles north of Newberry in Luce County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the fire has grown rapidly, fueled by drought conditions and unpredictable winds. Fire fighters remained on the line all day and will have fresh support fighting the blaze all night.
The fire now has a 20-mile long perimeter and is contained only in a small two-mile sector.
The Sleeper Lakes Fire jumped the northern fire line this afternoon, being pushed by gusty southeasterly winds and a relative humidity that dropped to 30%. Residents and visitors in the vicinity around Pine Stump Junction are being urged to exercise precautionary measures, as the fire is pushing in that direction. Precautionary evacuations have been ordered for County Road 420 in the vicinity of Pine Stump Junction, including the East Branch Sportsmen’s Club and Spile Dam Club. No additional road closures have been announced at this time.
Due to the presence of fire fighting aircraft, air space in the vicinity of the fire is restricted to only authorized aircraft.
The water bomber which had returned to Minnesota after providing much needed service on the second day of the fire returned along with a second plane to provide needed air support for those unreachable fire areas. The US Forest Service contracted helicopter water “bucketship” which was diverted to the Stonington Peninsula to control a new US Forest Service blaze yesterday, will also be returning to service on the Sleeper Lakes fire. In addition, three helicopters from the Army Air National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Grayling arrived this afternoon and have been pouring water on the front lines of the fire.
A burnout effort initiated on Friday along highway M-123 continues to hold, but the fire quickly spread outside its projected boundaries to the north.
A two track road about 1.5 miles north of the staging area at “4 Mile Corners” is being improved to form the southern fireline boundary, extending to County Road 407 about 1 mile north of Halfway Lake. This should provide a more defensible upland boundary on the south as well. Five bulldozers worked this south line to improve it during the day.
Over 110 firefighter and support personnel, 8 bulldozers, 12 water units four volunteer fire department trucks, and 4 small ATV water units have been on the fire today, along with the two water bombers and three helicopters. Three marsh units from Seney National Wildlife Refuge were also on the fire.
There continues to be no injuries to report and no lost or damaged structures; however several structures in the Chesbrough Lake remain threatened as the winds push the fire northward.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park is not threatened at this time. The fire is approximately 10 miles from the park’s western border.
State highway M-123 remains closed. Closure will be assessed on a daily basis as fire operations progress.
There are 15 active fires in the Upper Peninsula and they continue to stretch an already thin fire staff. Fire qualified land management personnel continue to fill in the ranks of fireline and overhead staff, but at a cost of not getting other land management work done.
Fire suppression are still very active, so residents and the general public should continue to avoid the immediate fire area and allow firefighters and their equipment to accomplish necessary fire suppression tasks.
Agencies involved in the fire include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Volunteer Fire Departments from Newberry, Columbus Township, Portage Township, Hudson Township, Hendricks Township, Hulbert and Garfield Township, the local Red Cross Chapter, the Luce County Sheriff’s Auxillary, Search and Rescue, and local keyman firefighters working for the DNR.
Because of the very high fire danger throughout the state, the Michigan DNR will not be issuing Burn Permits until further notice. Residents are also reminded that there are a number of activities that they can accomplish around their properties to protect their dwellings. Firewise activities and concepts can be adopted by residents that can increase their personal safety and the safety of their homes and buildings. More Firewise information can be obtained from Michigan State University Extension Offices and from the Firewise website at .
Also, information is available on the DNR website, www.michigan.gov/dnr.
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