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UPDATE: Grayling wildfire 85% contained; fire danger remains

A wildfire burning in Crawford County, southeast of Grayling, on Saturday, June 3, 2023. Photo taken from a Michigan State Police helicopter.
Michigan State Police
A wildfire burning in Crawford County, southeast of Grayling, on Saturday, June 3, 2023. Photo taken from a Michigan State Police helicopter.

State officials warn that extreme fire danger persists across much of Michigan, as crews get a handle on a large blaze southeast of Grayling that forced evacuations and road closures Saturday.

A 2,400-acre wildfire southeast of Grayling is now 85% contained, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

All evacuation orders in the area have been lifted and a handful of roads in the contained area are closed to north-south traffic as several hotspots remain active.

The size of the fire was previously reported at 3,600 acres, but officials later revised the number downward.

First responders from the DNR, U.S. Forest Service and local fire departments worked through the night to contain the fire. The DNR told WCMU the overnight drop in temperature and rise in humidity allowed firefighters to make a dent in putting out the fire.

Evacuation orders were lifted and a stretch of I-75 was reopened to traffic.


The smell of smoke was thick in the air on Saturday, with brown, hazy air in places. Some of the haze continued Sunday.

And while the wildfire near Grayling contributed to some of those conditions, most of it came from another country. Large wildfires in Canada have sent smoke our way.

Meteorologist Jeff Zoltowski, at the National Weather Service office in Gaylord, says people should expect those hazy conditions to persist through a good chunk of the work week.


Meanwhile, fire crews were expecting another busy day on Sunday, as fire danger remains critical throughout much of Michigan.

Laurie Abel is a public information officer with the DNR. She said the risk of wildfires throughout northern Michigan is extreme and this is an unprecedented situation.

"This fire is one that we’re trying to get to hand over to the local area," said Abel. "So that we can be prepared for the next big blow up. So we are still primed for conditions for this to happen just about anywhere in northern Michigan."

The DNR said no open burn permits will be administered at this time. But no open burning doesn't mean no campfires, Abel said. If you chose to have a campfire, make sure to have water sources on hand and to drench the fire with water multiple times before leaving the fire unattended, the DNR said in a statement.

Last night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the State Emergency Operations Center, which will provide the DNR, the U.S. Forest Service and local fire fighters additional state resources, including air assistance, to battle the fire.

Editor's note: This story has been revised as new developments have occurred.

Reporting comes from Teresa Homsi, Rick Brewer, Mike Horace and Amy Robinson at WCMU, and Tyler Thompson at Interlochen Public Radio.

In the interest of transparency, we note the Michigan DNR is a financial supporter of WCMU Public Media.