Michigan DNR officials announced today that an evacuation order that was in effect due to the St. Helen Trail Fire in Ogemaw County has been lifted and residents can return to their homes. The St. Helen Trail Fire, which started as a result of burning debris, covered 341 acres in Ogemaw and Foster townships before it was fully contained by firefighters at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2.
The St. Helen Trail fire is the largest of 38 wild fires fought so far by the Michigan DNR Saturday and Sunday. Most of the fires were smaller than 20 acres in size. Fire danger remains high across the state. In the northern Lower Peninsula, a red flag order has been issued for today, indicating extreme fire danger. Burn permits are not being issued in the northern Lower Peninsula due to the current level of fire danger.
In addition to the evacuation order being lifted for the St. Helen Trail Fire, the area has also been re-opened to the public. However, fire officials ask that members of the public and area residents avoid blocking driveways and roads as large equipment and fire operations will continue mop up efforts today. Residents are also cautioned to stay near their homes in order to avoid hot spots and other fire hazards that remain in the area.
Due to safety concerns with large equipment and fire hazards, the Ogemaw Hills ORV Trail remains closed today. Officials are also encouraging ORV riders to avoid the general area of the fire due to these same safety concerns.
The fire was located between St. Helen and West Branch. The fire destroyed one home, four sheds, two campers and one boat trailer. Approximately 20 homes were evacuated. Some 60 firefighters worked on the incident, including personnel from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and from volunteer fire departments in Clear Lake, Richfield and West Branch.