Current Fire Conditions

Current Fire Conditions in Michigan

The fire danger rating is derived by applying local observations of current or predicted conditions of fuel, weather, and topographic factors to a set of complex science-based equations. These calculations result in a numeric scaling of the potential over a large area for fires to ignite, spread, and require fire suppression action.  

Predicted Fire Weather  

The fire Daily Fire Weather  is a region specific daily fire weather report by the National Weather Service offices in Michigan. It encompasses all National Forests in Michigan. 

Red Flag Events  

A “Red Flag Event” is a combination of environmental factors that can lead to extreme wildland fire behavior with the potential for uncontrollable results. Unusually low relative humidities and fuel moistures, combined with temperatures of 75 degrees or greater and sustained high winds of 20 MPH or greater during preparedness level 3 or above prompt the implementation of critical fire weather advisories and warnings emphasizing extreme fire danger and very high potential for an unwanted major wildfire occurrence. A joint decision between Federal and State land managers and the National Weather Service usually dictates when these conditions arise. 

Red Flag Events are categorized in the following order: 

  • Fire Weather WATCH: Issued to alert the possibility of the development of the above described conditions that (with reasonable confidence) will likely occur in the near future. 
  • Red Flag WARNING: Issued to warn of a predicted, impending or ongoing event that will meet the criteria of a Red Flag Alert within the next 24 hour period. This warning will generally precede a full alert. 
  • All Red Flag Advisories: Can be found on the daily National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fire Weather Forecast. 

Fire Danger Levels Explained 

What are the different levels and what do they mean? 

Five different color-coded levels help the public and forest visitors to understand the current conditions and help mitigate their actions to prevent human-caused wildfires.  

Fire Danger Level: LOW 

When the fire danger is "Low," it means that fuels do not ignite easily from small embers, but a more intense heat source, such as lightning, may start fires in duff or dry rotten wood.  Fires in open, dry grasslands may easily burn a few hours after a rain, but most wood fires will spread slowly, creeping or smoldering.  Control of fires is generally easy. 

Fire Danger Level: MODERATE 

When the fire danger is "Moderate," it means that fires can start from most accidental causes, but the number of fire starts is usually pretty low.  If a fire does start in an open, dry grassland, it will burn and spread quickly on windy days.  Most wood fires will spread slowly to moderately.  Average fire intensity will be moderate except in heavy concentrations of fuel, which may burn hot.  Fires are still not likely to become serious and are often easy to control. 

Fire Danger Level: HIGH 

When the fire danger is "High," fires can start easily from most causes, and small fuels (such as grasses and needles) will ignite readily.  Unattended campfires and brush fires are likely to escape.  Fires will spread easily, with some areas of high-intensity burning on slopes or concentrated fuels.  Fires can become serious and difficult to control unless they are put out while they are still small. 

Fire Danger Level: VERY HIGH 

When the fire danger is "Very High," fires will start easily from most causes.  The fires will spread rapidly and have a quick increase in intensity, right after ignition.  Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirls.  These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires. 

Fire Danger Level: EXTREME 

When the fire danger is "Extreme," fires of all types start quickly and burn intensely.  All fires are potentially serious and can spread very quickly with intense burning.  Small fires become big fires much faster than at the "Very High" level.  Spot fires are probable, with long-distance spotting likely.  These fires are very difficult to fight and may become very dangerous and often last for several days or weeks.