June 2011 Howes Lake Wildfire west of Grayling, Michigan (Crawford, Kalkaska counties)

Update June 8, 2011: the Howes Lake Wildfire has been contained. Here is a wildfire map, from the Michigan DNR. See also an incident action plan (PDF), 8.5 x 11" version of this map, and an area map for reference.

News stories, many of which have photos: Andrew Keller at UpNorthLive: "Families go home"

The firefighters looked exhausted today, but those men and women were still at it, making sure this fire wouldn't pick back up and damage would stay at 817 acres.

Fire caused by lightning, officials say; Interlochen Public Radio

Mary Detloff, spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources, says weather maps from the National Weather Service show there was a strike in the area Monday.

"It's our theory that a jack pine was struck that night, or some time on Monday, and probably smoldered until winds picked up on Tuesday, which caused the fire to spread," she says.


A portion of the jack pine forest is on fire near Grayling, MI. Generally, fires of a substantial size get a name; this one is the Howes Lake Wildfire. The reporting started before the name was established so initial reports did not always use consistent naming, and I started with the  "Howes Lake Fire" name since it was the first name in shared use.

Here's details from reliable news sources that are likely to continue to have good information, updated at 12:30 am Wednesday.

The Michigan DNR is sending reports out on Twitter via the @MichiganDNR account. They started out are using the hashtag #wildfire; following that will also pick up coverage of the (much larger) fires in Arizona. After a while the report changed to #howeslakewildfire and that's unique (and the full name of the fire).

<MichiganDNR> #HowesLakeWildfire update: Howes Lake Rd remains closed, will be patrolled by fire crew& police officers overnight. More updates in the AM.


<MichiganDNR> #HowesLakeWildfire: 100% containment expected by midnight. Fire crews will then deal with dousing any remaining hotspots in the morning.


Radio Reference has a scanner feed covering Crawford County and the area. A list of covered frequencies on that scanner may be useful if you are in the area and tuning in directly. A forum post has some discussion of the scanner coverage.

9 and 10 News is live blogging the fire.

7:45-The DNR now estimates the fire size is between 600-800 acres. Officials on the ground say a "small spot fire" jumped the road however it was put out immediately. The main part of the forest fire did not jump the road. 

UpNorthLive (TV 7&4, Traverse City) is live blogging the fire.

4:20 pm. 7&4's Andrew Keller says he's talked with a family who lives off of Manistee River Road who looked out their door and saw 15 foot flames about 1/4 mile from their home.  The family started going door to door to warn their neighbors and evacuate the area.

Interlochen Public Radio (WIAA, 91.5 FM; listen online): Fire Burning West of Grayling, June 7, 2010

An unknown number of homes are being evacuated this afternoon because of a 250-acre wildfire west of Grayling and north of M-72, near Howes Lake.

WCMU News via Twitter, a bit later;

<WCMUNews> DNR says Crawford county wildfire is 1,000 acres and crowning in jackpine forest. Located @ Kalkaska-Crawford county line W. of Grayling

<WCMUNews> Howes Lake Fire in Crawford County is 1/4 -1/3 mile wide.  moving NE.  DNR asks you to stay away from the area while fire crews work

The June 7, 2011 Active Fire Mapping Program from the US Forest Service does not have a "large fire" dot on the map for the fire as of 4:15 pm Tuesday.

The local Grayling newspaper is the Crawford County Avalanche; its story here is from 5:25 pm, Wildfire starts west of Grayling. Characteristically it gives a newspapery feel to the story.

The Crawford County Emergency Management Department reported that a wildfire started Tuesday afternoon and is burning   near Camp Shawono on Howes Lake Road.  The Grayling Fire Department, Kalkaska Fire Department and Frederic Fire Department were all on scene to battle the blaze.  The fire is going in a northwesterly direction.

Camp Shawono is the Shawono Center, managed by the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The Shawono Center is a secure treatment facility for male juveniles between the ages of 12 and 21 years who have been adjudicated for one or more felony counts. The Center offers 3 specialized treatment programs. The Sex Offenders program has 20 beds and limits the contact with the other treatment groups. The addictions/Substance Abuse Treatment group and the general delinquents treatment group, with mild to medium mental health issues, each have 9 treatment beds.

Current news is coming out via twitter, in fragments. Follow @WCMUNews and @MichiganDNR for a start. Photos from the scene appear on most of the television web site feeds.

Last year's Meridian Fire coverage was a start in getting this account put together; I'll expect to see the DNR put together incident maps for use by firefighters and the media once an operations command gets a chance to settle.

1 thought on “June 2011 Howes Lake Wildfire west of Grayling, Michigan (Crawford, Kalkaska counties)

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