Little Carp River Wildfire

Project #: 99987  –   Updated: November 03, 2011

Project Summary

On October 20th of 2000, a wildfire was discovered in the interior of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This fire was somewhat unique for both the time of year that it occurred (late fall in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and its size of over 1200 acres.

Even more notable is that it occurred in what many call the "asbestos forest" of Northern Hardwoods. Fire rotation periods have been suggested to be between 550 and 2800 years for this forest community. Rarely, wind driven fires can produce significant fire spread and dramatic fire effects over large areas , primarily...

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Location (by county):
Ontonagon County (MI)

Watersheds:
Black-Presque Isle

Congressional Districts:
MI District 01

Bird Conservation Regions:
Boreal Hardwood Transition

USFWS Regions:
Midwest Region

Project size:
1219.57 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Little Carp River Road Parking Area Yes
Carp River Wildfire Yes

Full Project Description

On October 20th of 2000, a wildfire was discovered in the interior of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This fire was somewhat unique for both the time of year that it occurred (late fall in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and its size of over 1200 acres.

Even more notable is that it occurred in what many call the "asbestos forest" of Northern Hardwoods. Fire rotation periods have been suggested to be between 550 and 2800 years for this forest community. Rarely, wind driven fires can produce significant fire spread and dramatic fire effects over large areas , primarily on warm, windy days in the late fall of dry years after leaves have fallen and cured in this community

Started by lightning, it was contained with handlines constructed with handtools and leaf blowers. Firefigthers suppressed holdover fires along the perimeter with hoselays. But little effort was made to extinguish fire in the interior of the area burned. where it continued to smoulder well into November.

While the fire was being monitored through the rest of the year, individual trees could be seen and heard falling as their root systems destabilized. The primary victims were the hemlocks where holdover fire continued to smoulder in the heavy layer of needle litter protected from rain and snow under dense canopies.

This area was subsequently studied for a master's thesis at Northern Michigan University, and has seen little human impact since the fire. It provides an excellent opportunity to evaluate the type of fire impact that this ecosystem has historically been subject too.

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Organization

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
(State Government)

Primary Contact

Robert Wild  (Park Interpreter)
Michigan State Parks
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Project Photos

Carpriverfire_detail

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