North Newberry Fires - May, 2012

Grand Rapids, MI

#226 May 28, 2012
I want to thank all of the folks on this forum that have spent a lot of time and energy in keeping those of us that can't be there informed. A lot of us still don't know if what we had in place is there or not. I do know that even if our little camp is intact it will be a much different place for all of us. Many of the areas I played in and explored as a small boy since my first trip to our property 41 years ago are gone. It will all grow back eventually, and most folks will recover, but it is a sad moment in our history.

Since: May 12

Evansville, IN

#227 May 28, 2012
On m live stated hour ago there was blowout in south end of fire zone. Crews pulled back and air crews are grounded because of thunderstorms. Just how bad don't know. Waiting on pins and needles for more info. Rain dance going on here. Any new info anyone?

United States

#228 May 28, 2012
skidoochick49868 wrote:
On m live stated hour ago there was blowout in south end of fire zone. Crews pulled back and air crews are grounded because of thunderstorms. Just how bad don't know. Waiting on pins and needles for more info. Rain dance going on here. Any new info anyone?
Same here, waiting, no news anywhere. I think my toilet has had more use this week than in the 35 years I have lived down state here. Nothing on any firefighters that may have been injured. Do know a massive cell went through and dropped some rain, but the winds have also caused problems. Let's all try to post as soon as any of us know something. Also, the minute we can get in, we are on our way up. Yes, it certainly is not going to be the same. I am planning on a picture and journal scrapbook for future family and grandkids, so that they can watch the new growth and possible compare it in the decades to come and their new memories continue in our little piece of God's country. This wind has probably put us back days for being able to get in.

Norway, MI

#229 May 28, 2012
I hope you are getting some good rain in the fire area today.
Little Two Heart

United States

#230 May 28, 2012
Any more news about 414 and 501??

Since: May 12

Evansville, IN

#231 May 28, 2012
All I've heard is there was a blowup around that area and that no structures were lost today.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#232 May 28, 2012
May 28 10 pm

The Duck Lake Fire, in its fifth day, is causing a strain on residents, as rumors swirl that looters are breaking into evacuated cabins and trailers in the fire zone.

Meanwhile, a blowout occurred on the south end of the fire zone about 5 p.m. today, causing officials to pull ground crews and attack it from the air. But a thunderstorm currently raging in the area has now grounded aircraft.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokesman Dean Wilson said he's heard rumors of looting incidents. "But this area is heavily patrolled by law enforcement and there's no evidence of any structures being broken into. The rumors are rampant, but our conservation officers refute them," Wilson said.

He said that's one reason why tours are being orchestrated to take home and land owners into the fire zone, so they can see for themselves. "People need to know," he said.

Wilson confirmed that some curiosity seekers have entered the fire zone. "Some people just like taking risks, but they don't realize they're risking their lives. Temperatures are up, the relative humidity is down and the winds are really kicking up in an area where there's a lot of unburned fuel out here and it's been pre-heated by the original fire. It's extremely dangerous."

Ed Golder, another DNR spokesman, said the heat is intense. "I've heard of firefighters who have come upon trailers that are melted. It's a hot, hot fire."

Scores of homeowners since Sunday have been escorted by emergency management vehicles into the fire zone to access their homes. They are given 15 minutes to survey any damage and if possible, grab any valuables.

Why only 15 minutes? "Because other people are waiting to get into their homes. The roads are closed so we aren't allowing people in on their own. We can only take 10-15 people at a time," Wilson said.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#233 May 28, 2012

Meanwhile, the firefighting continues, and today has had its challenges, Wilson said.

Increased fire activity on the fire's south end has been difficult to battle, due to the swampy terrain. With the blowout, they may have to expand the fire line.

The rain from thunderstorms will help, but the severe downdrafts and high winds could be problematic. But 51 percent of the 22,204-acre fire had been contained before the reported blowout - three percent more than this morning.

But as Wilson says, "It's a tinderbox out there."

The DNR estimates the firefighting cost so far at $450,557.

A hundred properties have been inspected; it's estimated there are 170 buildings within the fire perimeter but Wilson couldn't confirm that.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#234 May 28, 2012
By Meegan Holland

The Duck Lake Fire has turned the Whispering Pines Community upside down, from a peaceful, off-the-grid existence that property owners fear can never be restored.

Evacuee Amy Hubbard Witherspoon cried during an interview, thinking about the beautiful cabins and belongings destroyed in the fire, which has raged in Luce County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula for six days now.

Wednesday started out as a peaceful day for Witherspoon and her family at their beloved cabin, across the road from Pike Lake.

The cabin, owned by Witherspoon's father Richard Hubbard, 71, has been in the family for 45 years. Her grandfather and uncle who planted trees in the area as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and fell in love with the wild country. When land came up for sale in the area, they bought a little piece of God's country, and have since grown close to neighbors.

Richard owns Hubbard Apiaries, a commercial beekeeping operation that proudly boasts 4,000 swarms of Pure Michigan bees. Since cell phones don't work in the isolated area and landlines don't exist, area residents communicate by CB radio and are known by their "handles." Her dad Richard is known as Bee Man. Amy is known as Bee Man's Daughter. Her brothers, Todd and Guy, are known as The Stinger and Bee Boy.

It's a life they've treasured, so much that when Richard's wife died a year ago, they created a memorial garden near the cabin with a five-foot replica of the Crisp Point Lighthouse on the shore of Little Lake Harbor, "because she loved it so much."

The Whispering Pine community has been working for 10 years to restore the lighthouse, partly to honor Tom Singleton, legendary for being the final lighthouse keeper.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#235 May 28, 2012
Meegan Holland story continued...

People still tell stories about Singleton, who early in his career had snow-shoed from the lighthouse to dances in Newberry. His well-loved family still owns a line of beautiful cabins, stuffed with antiques, on bluffs overlooking Lake Superior. Amy remembered him just days ago by placing flowers on his grave.

Memories abound for the Hubbard family, with five generations enjoying the cabin. Amy still makes coffee with an old-style stainless steel, copper-bottomed pot that her grandma has had since she was first married. "She taught me how to make coffee in that pot."

Amy and her husband Todd work in Grand Rapids, and they love to escape their downstate Lakeview home to relish the peacefulness and isolation of the Whispering Pines Community.

Cabins just 15 feet off the road are hidden by thick stands of jack pine and White pine. Because homes don't have addresses, they put what Amy calls "knick-knacks" in the yard to help identify their homes. The Hubbards' cabin, at the intersection of two fire lanes, is marked by - what else?- distinctive beehives painted green and white with the Hubbard name on it.

It's a world of extremes - extreme kindness by neighbors who rely on each other, and extreme winds that would blow down any electrical lines, so homes are powered by generators. And finally by extreme weather, which can result in thunderstorms like the one last Monday night. "I've never seen anything like it in my life," Amy said. "It was so loud and there was so much lightning that it was almost like daylight."

It had been an overly busy spring. The unseasonably warm weather meant their apiary business got an early start. They started transporting bees to sweet cherry orchards in late March. Since then it has been non-stop, and they knew they needed to grab a quick vacation at the cabin now, before the blueberry pollination season begins along the Lake Michigan shore. And the trip was a reward to Amy's daughter Ashley, 18, who had just had a good semester at Grace Bible College.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#236 May 28, 2012
Meegan Holland story continued.

Family members are kayakers, and that's what they were doing on nearby Chris Brown Lake last Wednesday when the wind kicked up. "It was very strange," Witherspoon said. "Any birdwatcher up there will tell you that loons stay away from people, but there were a couple of loons following us. I thought they were going to attack us. They got within 10 feet."

Then they saw the smoke near Pike Lake. They immediately headed for shore, with the loons behind them. They ran to their neighbor's deck on the lake, and "I could see flames flickering at the end of Pike Lake."

A feeling of dread came over Amy. In 2007, she woke up in the cabin surrounded by smoke from the Sleeper Lake Fire from miles away. It made an indelible impression, and she always feared something similar would happen much closer.

They ran back to the cabin to pack what they could. Amy quickly threw clothes into Tupperware bins, worrying an evacuation order would come down soon. She was startled by a firefighter who kicked in the door and said they needed to leave - fast. As she left, she grabbed her grandmother's coffee pot,

What she didn't know until later is that her dad was grabbing the lighthouse replica that stood over his wife's memorial garden and the kayaks in his pickup truck.

They made it out safely, and moved into the Comfort Inn on the edge of Newberry, five people crammed into one hotel room. Smoke has come into the hotel rooms. Soot has covered the windshields of cars in the parking lot.

Amy didn't know what to do with herself in the days following the fire, so she'd head to the American Red Cross shelter, just to listen to people tell their stories. "I think it helped them to have someone listen," she said.

She heard of one elderly couple from Little Lake who went into town a routine doctor visit, and when they returned home, they couldn't get in. They were heartbroken to think their dog may have perished.

People would listen to scanners of firefighter talk as they worked the fire lanes, and Amy would occasionally hear firefighters say, "We're passing the Hubbards' beehives." A good sign - the markers were still standing.

She is trying to keep up her spirits, but starts crying when she thinks of the potential losses of beautiful cabins like those owned by the Singleton family on bluffs overlooking the big lake. Word had it that the fire had burned completely to the Lake Superior shoreline.

Like the entire town of Newberry and beyond, she's grateful to the DNR, firefighters and the Red Cross volunteers, one named Lori Miller, whose husband is a firefighter and who "was up all night night cooking" and delivered a spaghetti dinner to the Hubbards.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#237 May 28, 2012
On Sunday, she decided she should take her dad's lead and head back home.

"A lot of firefighters arrived last night and I don't want to take up a hotel room. I don't feel right taking up space," Witherspoon said, and added that the smoke is exacerbating her asthma.

On Sunday afternoon, her brother Guy attended the public meeting at McMillan Township Hall with DNR and other fire staff, where they heard that 80 of 170 buildings have been lost, including a motel and store. Crews are still assessing damage (today the number of destroyed buildings was increased to 95).

And then the DNR allowed homeowners to quickly visit their property. When Guy got to their beloved cabin, a little circle of green surrounded the property, with the burn line stopping just before the memorial garden and the beehive markers. Only his Mazda 4X4, used for hunting and off-road travel, had been charred.

"It's a miracle. It's such a blessing!" Amy said.

End of Meegan Holland story.

Norway, MI

#238 May 28, 2012
Sounds like the rain hasn't done any good at all.
Timber Jack - Chesbrough

Escanaba, MI

#239 May 28, 2012
Oswald's Bear Ranch & Pine Stump Junction, and Muskollenge State Park, and Deer Park Lodge are NOT affected by the Duck Lake Fire
Little Two Heart

United States

#240 May 28, 2012
skidoochick49868 wrote:
All I've heard is there was a blowup around that area and that no structures were lost today.
Thanks of the info you have so far!

Thompsonville, MI

#241 May 28, 2012
well I hear it might be raining up there? hope that it is !! good luck and keep praying!
Little Two Heart

United States

#242 May 29, 2012
It's important that some things be addressed both in forums like this and at the public meetings while people are paying attention. This is both necessary and positive. 1. There are some disputes about how and when things got the way they did. They need to address those concerns. 2. We need to know how soon air support arrived compared to how soon it arrived in Seney - matter of public record. 3. There is a lot of dispute nation-wide about the need for proper technology to allow night drops and night fire-fighting because they can make real headway with lower winds, etc. at night. This needs looking at and I expect will be an ongoing issue as it is in CA and elsewhere. But there are even more important questions that are crucial that need answering at the next meeting that I don't want to post ahead of time. A month from now (please God), most people will not be paying attention. No one expects them to solve these things overnight and there are certainly priorities we all understand, but making people aware of some of these issues now is important for improving things down the road. Having said all this,I want to reiterate that we know there are wonderful people on the ground working very hard out there, and no one is suggesting everything they are doing is wrong-- nor does it go unappreciated. But most of those people working so hard are not the ones making the decisions or policy.

United States

#243 May 29, 2012
skidoochick49868 wrote:
All I've heard is there was a blowup around that area and that no structures were lost today.
Ski doo chick..... is this Jesse??? Hope all is well

Since: May 12

Springfield, NJ

#244 May 29, 2012
Yes it is.

United States

#245 May 29, 2012
skidoochick49868 wrote:
Yes it is.
Jon da troll here (used to live in highland). How's your bear camp?

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