Two federal agencies continue to deal with a forest fire near Lost Lake in Munising Township. Roughly a dozen firefighters from the U.S. Forest System and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are finishing extinguishing the three-acre fire on both public and private land.
As of Wednesday afternoon, officials are happy with the progress made by the firefighting teams.
“(It’s) not contained, but what we would say is mopping up. They’re looking for smoke or anything warm and putting it out,” said Janel Crooks, Public Affairs Officer for the Hiawatha National Forest. “You can do that by mixing coals with dirt or they might use water to mop up any hot spots.”
The burn area near Lost Lake is primarily pine trees and shrub swamp with no structures impacted by the blaze.
To fight the fire, the services used specialized aircraft to pick up water and put it directly on the fire. With pilots picking up water from Munising’s South Bay, a number of locals were able to take photos and videos of the Bombardier CL-415 Super Scooper in action.
According to U.S. Forest Service North Zone Aviation Officer Chad Runyan, what people saw in Munising was one of the few aircraft in the world designed to fight fires.
“The airplane has a small set of scoops that are opened prior to skimming across the water, which fills the onboard 1,600 gallon tank. This takes approximately one mile of open water, which is why South Bay was chosen to operate from. The aircraft then drops the water out of four belly doors onto the fire,” Runyan said in an email. “The main purpose of any firefighting aircraft is to aid the firefighters on the ground. These larger aircraft take on the more intense heat allowing the ground resources to proceed and eventually extinguish the fire.”
There are 11 total firefighting aircraft in Michigan. The ones used to fight the Lost Lake fire are based at Marquette Sawyer Airport.
The agencies will continue to address the situation due to the extreme risk for wildfires across Alger County.
“With elevated wildfire conditions this week, our firefighters continue to actively work the Lost Lake Fire and patrol for additional fire starts. For the safety of our staff, we request that the public stay clear of the incident and keep private aircraft (including drones) away from the area — if you fly, we can’t!” Acting District Ranger Donna Peppin said in a release.