GRAYLING (AP) — Fire crews had largely contained a blaze Tuesday that burned 750 to 800 acres of northern Michigan woodlands, destroyed or damaged a number of buildings and forced the evacuation of 100 homes, a state spokeswoman said.
The fire broke out about 2:30 p.m. in the Howes Lake area of Crawford County west of Grayling, a town of about 1,800 about 125 miles north-northeast of Grand Rapids. No injuries have been reported, and the source of the blaze wasn't immediately determined.
The fire was 80 percent contained at 9 p.m., and officials expected to have it fully contained by midnight, said Mary Dettloff, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
"We're already starting to mop up in some areas," Dettloff said. She said skeleton crews would monitor it overnight, and firefighters would go back to work about 7 a.m. Wednesday.
The fire destroyed one or two non-residential buildings and damaged the siding of about five homes, Dettloff said.
There were several factors that laid the groundwork for the fire, including a lack of rain in the past few days, temperatures that pushed into the low 90s and blustery winds, Dettloff said. Mitigating the risk were the area's heavy rains within the past month and the fact that highly flammable jack pines make up only a portion of the forest, which contains a mix of them, red pines and oak.
The fire jumped the Manistee River Road, where about 100 houses were evacuated. An evacuation shelter was opened at the Resurrection Life Church.
The DNR had about 30 fire personnel on the scene, department spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said. Numerous other fire and police agencies were helping in the effort.
Spring wildfires are common in the region. Two fires in May 2010 scorched about 10,000 acres in Crawford County, destroying a dozen homes.