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100 Properties Damaged As UP Wildfires Blaze

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Taken at from the scene of the Duck Lake wildfire in the eastern Upper Peninsula. (Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources/Facebook)

Taken at from the scene of the Duck Lake wildfire in the eastern Upper Peninsula. (Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources/Facebook)

NEWBERRY (WWJ/AP) - An out of control wildfire in the Upper Peninsula now spans 22,000 acres. Dozens of people have been evacuated, but there have been no reports of injuries.

New estimates are out Monday as official survey the damaged near Newberry.

Dean Wilson of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says 100 properties so far show damage and many structures have been destroyed.

“Thirty-one-percent of those properties have suffered losses. That includes 95 structures lost,” Wilson told WWJ Newsradio 950. “Anything from homes, permanent residences, to camps, cottages, out-buildings, garages — those sorts of things.”

A bit of rain and four more aircraft helped Michigan authorities on Sunday in their attempts to contain the blaze.

About 230 crew members – 40 of them involved in aerial operations – were fighting the fire in the eastern part of sparsely populated upper Michigan, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Wilson said the fire was about 47 percent contained. “They’re holding the line pretty well,” he said.

Lightning delayed air operations until about noon Sunday. But the addition of four Michigan National Guard helicopters to the fleet of two air tankers and a helicopter was making a difference, particularly in trying to shield structures from the flames.

Dozens of buildings have been destroyed, and efforts to assess the damage are still ongoing. Wilson said a partial count showed the fire had destroyed 28 homes, 19 garages and 14 outbuildings.

On Sunday morning, the state estimated that the fire had covered 20,255 acres, slightly less than Saturday’s estimate of about 21,000 acres. There was no update Sunday evening.
The Duck Lake Fire started with a lightning strike Wednesday. The blaze is in a stretch of forest that touches Lake Superior, about 75 miles northeast of the Mackinac Bridge. The area is remote and near inaccessible in places.

Fewer than 100 people have been reported evacuated, and many of the area’s homes are seasonal and were unoccupied at the time, Wilson said.

“Today’s fire suppression activities will focus on holding existing secure line, fortifying established line put in yesterday, and extending fire lines north from the fire heel along both the east and west flanks,” the DNR said in a statement Sunday.
The south end of the fire was 14 miles north of Newberry and seven miles west of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds, the DNR said.

Mop-up operations have been under way in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Schoolcraft County, where a fired burned about 3,400 acres, or about 5.3 square miles. That blaze was reported Monday and also blamed on a lightning strike.

Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in Luce and Schoolcraft counties. The declaration permitted authorities to order evacuations, establish a fireworks ban in the two affected counties and ban outdoor burning in 49 counties.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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