Massive Forest Fire Reported in Northern Michigan


Smoke from the Blue Lakes Fire billows out of the forest in an aerial image taken by a fire spotter plane. Courtesy MDNR.

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

State and local firefighters from across Northern Michigan are battling a massive forest fire in Montmorency County.

The Blue Lakes Fire was reported around 12:40 p.m. Friday, May 13, 2022, northwest of Atlanta near the Pigeon River Country State Forest, which is home to a thousand of Michigan’s elk.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters and local partners are working to contain a wildfire in Montmorency and Cheboygan counties estimated at 2,000 acres as of 9 p.m. Friday. For comparison, crews battled fires on a total of 2,370 acres in 2021.

Approximate location of the Blue Lakes Fire.

The Blue Lakes Fire has so far caused the evacuation of 13 people from the Black River Ranch, a private hunting club, with no other evacuations and no structures lost as of Friday night, according to DNR spokesperson Kerry Heckman. No injuries were reported.

“The fire is fueled by a mix of jack pine, mixed pine and grasses, with a very large smoke plume visible from miles away,” she said.

The DNR had 40 firefighters on the ground and a 12-member incident management team. Firefighters from local fire departments are assisting in fire suppression efforts, including Tri-Township, Hillman Area, Vienna, Canada Creek Ranch Fire Brigade, Albert Township, Charlton Township and Onaway.

Additional help includes air support from four Fire Bosses, one Air Attack plane, a Type 3 helicopter and a DNR spotter plane. Further assistance is being provided by Onaway EMS, Hillman Area EMS, Michigan State Police, Montmorency County Sheriff and DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Numerous roads are closed in the area to accommodate firefighting efforts and protect public safety.

The fire was discovered at about 12:40 p.m. Friday; the cause is under investigation.

Fire danger in the area remains extreme due to windy, dry, warm weather and dry fuels. Fire danger for much of the state is expected to be high throughout the weekend.

The DNR reminds people to check before planning to burn yard debris or start a campfire, and always to have an accessible water source nearby. For more fire safety tips, visit

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