50-acre forest fire deemed ‘suspicious’

May 4, 2015

forest fire - 6By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

OTTO TWP. — A 50-acre forest fire on federal land about a half mile north of the intersection of Skeels and Harris roads Sunday evening, May 3, has been deemed suspicious, Grant Township Fire Chief Roland Brooks said Monday, May 4.

No one was injured and no structures were damaged in the blaze, Brooks said. Firefighters were initially dispatched to the scene at 4:32 p.m. and cleared the scene at 10:30 p.m.

A firefighter on scene Sunday said no houses appeared to be in immediate danger forest fire -1other than an old hunting cabin. The cabin was saved from the blaze, Brooks said. A total of 51 firefighters from Grant Township, Montague, Blue Lake Township, Shelby-Benona Township and Ferry Township battled the huge blaze, as well as Michigan Department of Natural Resources units from Oceana and Lake counties. DNR officers are currently at the scene, checking on “seven or eight hot spots,” Brooks said. The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police are investigating the suspicious fire, the chief said. There is a K-9 unit from the MSP post in Niles on scene, he said.

Heavy smoke could be seen from 116th Avenue in the vicinity of the blaze. A passerby called 911 to report the fire, Brooks said.

Oceana County EMS was called to the scene Sunday for standby, and the Canteen forest fire -1Unit 450 out of Norton Shores was on hand to provide food and beverages for the firefighters who battled the blaze for six hours.

Firefighters on scene reported that the blaze was contained at approximately 7 p.m.

It was initially reported that the blaze encompassed 20 acres, but it was nearly 50 acres total, Brooks said.

The forest fire was the second fire in Otto Township last weekend. A fire at 1331 E. Wilke Rd. Saturday afternoon, May 2, destroyed a 29-foot Fleetwood camping trailer, Brooks said. Firefighters from Grant and Ferry townships were dispatched to the scene at 1:30 p.m and cleared the scene at 3 p.m. The DNR also assisted, Brooks said.

forest fire 2“A guy was burning newspapers on an open fire,” the fire chief said. “The wind caught it, and it got away from him, setting the woods on fire.”

The fire chief reminds residents that they need to check with the DNR to see if burning is permitted. Burning is not currently allowed in Oceana County, as well as many areas of the state, due to the dry, windy conditions. The DNR’s burning permit site is updated daily.


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