The iconic Smokey Bear is celebrating his 70th birthday this month. As WXPR Contributor Monie Shackleford reports, on Saturday, the Ottawa National Forest marked the occasion with a well-attended party at the Ottawa’s Visitor Center outside of Watersmeet, Michigan.
The party for Smokey included food, games for kids, historic Smokey promotional displays, fire trucks from area communities, and of course Smokey Bear. After the crowd sang “Happy Birthday,” to Smokey, he cut the cake with a firefighter’s axe called a Pulaski.
As snow cover lessens, fire danger increases. The DNR has designated this week as “Wildfire Prevention Week” to mark the upcoming anniversary of the Germann Road Fire that burned more that 7000 acres in Douglas County last May.
Wildfire Prevention specialist Catherine Koele says the highest risk for fire comes after the snow melts and before things green up.
DNR law enforcement officials have identified the owner of the land where the Germann Road Fire originated as well as the logging operation responsible for unintentionally igniting the fire.
On Tuesday, May 14, at approximately 2:30 p.m., a nearly 8,000 acre wildfire devastated the Townships of Gordon and Highland in Douglas County. Forty-seven structures were lost; 17 of those were homes. The fire was declared 100 percent contained as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 15. The fire burned a swath more than 9 miles long and a mile and a half wide.