Hot and dry weather in West Michigan pose an increased fire risk

Hot and dry weather in West Michigan pose an increased fire risk. (WWMT/Matt Miller)

Hot, dry conditions have firefighters throughout West Michigan worried about fire.

Portage firefighters were able to get control of the two brush fires quickly after they were ignited back to back Monday afternoon.

The first ignited in a grassy area off of Interstate 94 near Lovers Lane.

"We were able to get in front of it and get some water on it and luckily the grass was all mowed pretty short there so it goes out pretty quick. I think that the smoke obstructed the highway, so it may not have closed it but it certainly slowed traffic for quite a while," said Portage Fire Marshall Derek Henson.

The second brush fire erupted behind the sears at the Crossroads Mall not long after. Multiple fire crews on scene worked to keep the fire contained.

"Any spark is going to ignite grass so just be careful what you do with things that are hot, that can be an ignition source," Henson said.

Henson said brush fires are rare in the Portage area because they have strict burn rules, but it's still important to be vigilant.

Monday the Emmett Township Department of Public Safety posted a warning on Facebook, no open burning due to weather conditions.

"We haven't had any kind of significant rainfall we're seeing pretty considerable dry conditions right now," said Emmett Township Department of Public Safety Lt. Tony Geigle.

Fire officials are warning people about setting off fireworks. It's illegal to set them off at this point, but if you do, it's one very easy way to start a brush fire.

"When it's dry like this fires are going to double in size rather quickly, as quickly as every minute," Henson said.

According to a hazard map the Department of Natural Resources compiles, parts of Kalamazoo County are at a high or very high fire risk.

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