Moderated weather has allowed for fire behavior to temper somewhat. Main burning areas remain at tree bases where moisture has not been able to reach the ground. While weather forecasts are not calling for any significant rainfall, higher relative humidity should allow for a couple of days of aggressive mop up work by hand crews. A special helicopter flight is scheduled for today utilizing infra-red cameras; which will be able to pinpoint areas where heat is concentrated in the ground. Those hotspots will be mapped and crews dispatched to specific locations to extinguish areas that may have gone undetected thus far. Two National Guard Black Hawk helicopters will be active conducting water drops on the fire today.
Russ MacDonald, Escanaba Unit Fire Supervisor, assumed the post of Incident Commander this morning, replacing Rich Ahnen, Crystal Falls Unit Fire Supervisor, who has served as Incident Commander on the Sleeper Lake Fire for most of the last 22 days.
In the first three weeks of battling the Sleeper Lake Fire, crews have worked diligently to lay 11.5 miles of hose, which is over twice the length of the Mackinac Bridge. They have also installed 1.5 miles of irrigation pipe to feed the hoses which are used to water down the fire. Maintaining constant communication between fire crews and support personnel has required the use of over 10,000 batteries thus far.
Typical of the generosity that the community of Newberry has exhibited to the firefighters throughout the course of the Sleeper Lake blaze, the American Red Cross reported today that an anonymous donor dropped off ten 100 dollar bills to help offset costs associated with the fire. The community has rallied in support of this huge effort, donating laundry services, baked goods, garden produce, notes of gratitude and general well wishes to the firefighters and support personnel. Many of those associated with the Sleeper Lake Fire, especially the crews from across the country, have expressed awe at the level of support and appreciation expressed by the community of Newberry. Crews that have worked on fires throughout the nation have commented that the community support on the Sleeper Lake Fire is unprecedented.
Our New Normal
4 weeks ago