Smoldering brush ignites one-acre grass fire

Tim Barnum
A firefighter sprays water on the burning grass.
Tim Barnum
Animals are led away from the fire as a heavy amount of smoke rolls off the ground.
Tim Barnum
A Sterling Area fire Department brush truck travels down Lucas Road toward the scene of the fire.
Tim Barnum
A second Sterling Area Fire Department truck travels toward the scene.
Tim Barnum
As a firefighter sprays the ground, another firefighter directs a second truck as to where to park.

ADAMS TWP. — A grass fire that burned nearly one acre of land Sept. 17 caused no injuries and is believed to have been caused by a fire intentionally set the day before, according to Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fire Officer Nick Wheeler.

“The land owner said he was burning brush the previous day, and it (smoldered),” he said. “And he said it started again later in the day.”

The fire was reported at approximately 1:25 p.m. on the 6700 block of Lucas Road, Wheeler said. Brush that had been brush-hogged by the land owner fueled the fire, he said.

“It looks like he’s been clearing land and making a pasture,” he said.

Animals were led away from the scene of the fire and none were injured, Wheeler added.

The Sterling Area Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Although there was some rain the day before, Wheeler said conditions have been rather dry lately, and people often make the mistake of thinking rain will lessen the chances of a fire spreading.

“We had that light rain the other day, and people think it’s fine to burn,” he said. “They don’t realize that fire can hold over. All it takes is the sun and wind to dry it out.”

In Arenac County, especially, there has been a shortage of rain lately, Wheeler added.

“We do calculations for fire danger, and the drought’s getting higher in Arenac County,” he said.

With fall cleanup approaching, Wheeler said people should practice fire safety.

“Clear the area around the brush pile and get it down to mineral soil,” he said. “Get it down to the sand or whatever so there’s not continuing fuel.”

He added that people burning brush or leaves should also watch the fire and make sure it is out before leaving it unattended.

“Keep an eye on it,” he said. “I think that’s a big part of the problem. People think they can leave for a while and it’s taking off on them.”

Wheeler said people should also contact the DNR about burn permits before burning. He said they can call the DNR’s permit line at 866-922-2876 or visit


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