There are few things scarier than a wildfire. Though frequently seen in the news, wildfires are no less alarming each time a new one begins. As they burn uncontrolled, threatening wildlife, farmland, and even homes, many of us are forced to watch helplessly hoping it will soon burn out. The truth of the matter, however, is that wildfires can spread quickly, consuming an average of 1.2 million acres per year in the United States.

When you combine human error or carelessness with dead matter that ignites easily, a wildfire can become deadly in very little time, which is why it is important to take care when handling fire in any capacity. High winds and heat or even lightning strikes can further complicate matters as these factors may further spread ongoing fires or spark new ones. Though weather often plays a role in the behavior of a wildfire, it is actually possible that the fire itself can produce its own weather if it grows large enough which is a frightening phenomenon in itself.

Unfortunately Michigan has been experiencing weather that is conducive to the presence of wildfires and upcoming weather shows no sign of that changing. Due to warm weather and little rain, the possibility of wildfires are greatly increased. As fire danger is considered to be high, it is vital that Michigan residents and visitors alike take precautions to keep fires from starting.

As hunters who may be working on food plots or preparing shooting houses, we are among the first who may take note of a wildfire. While spending time in the woods, it is especially important to be vigilant regarding your surroundings for any sign of a fire starting. If part of your hunting season readiness involves camping and cooking over a camp fire, this especially needs to be done with the utmost safety in mind.

When it comes to preventing wildfires from starting, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued the following reminder via press release:

1. Use fire rings in nonflammable areas that are sheltered from wind.
2. Keep a water source and shovel nearby.
3. Place roasting sticks in a bucket of water when not in use.
4. NEVER leave a campfire unattended.
5. Completely extinguish fires before turning in for the night. Douse with water, stir and douse again to make sure there are no hot embers left.

With the current weather expected to persist and little to no rain in the forecast, it is up to each of us as individuals to take safety precautions to prevent fires. With that said, there is no time like the present to learn and implement fire safety practices. Whether you build a campfire during a whitetail hunt in the upcoming season or are just enjoying a summer camping trip with the family, knowing how to prevent your campfire from becoming a wildfire is priceless and can save your life as well as many others. Although wildfire calls have been on the rise in Michigan, there is no reason for one of those calls to be your own.

More information regarding wildfire threat, management, and fire prevention can be found here on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website. Enjoy the wilderness and the beautiful weather, but do so safely.