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Northern Michigan wildfire burns through 3,600 acres, forcing evacuations and the closure of a nearby highway

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for June 2, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for June 2, 2023 04:18

(CNN) — A wildfire in Northern Michigan burned through 3,600 acres, forcing evacuations and prompting the closure of a nearby highway Saturday, officials said.

The blaze, centered in Grayling Township about 50 miles from Traverse City, is spreading west and southwest and threatening multiple buildings, the state's Department of Natural Resources said in a statement.

"Evacuations are being conducted by emergency personnel," the department said.

A five-mile stretch of Interstate 75 was shut down in both directions as crews battle the fire, and a temporary flight restriction was issued for a five-mile perimeter around the fire below 5,000 feet.

Firefighters are attacking the flames from the ground and the air, with aircraft scooping water from Neff Lake, Shellenbarger Lake and Lake Margrethe, according the statement.

Crawford County Sheriff Ryan Swope said in a statement that power in the area has been shut off for the safety of firefighters working under power lines.

It's still unknown what sparked the fire, the Department of Natural Resources said in its statement earlier.

The fire is burning as Michigan sees "unprecedented" hot and dry conditions for this time of year, setting the stage extreme fire danger, the statement added.

The wildfire produced thick smoke in the area Saturday, and the department warned nearby residents to limit exposure to wildfire smoke by staying indoors with windows shut.

The Department of Natural Resources also said visibility may be reduced on roadways.

Warm temperatures, low humidity, gusty winds and dry fuels will all combine fuel the risk of fires in the days ahead, the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids said in a tweet.

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