FAYETTE – The Poverty Island Wildfire, burning since late June on the 200 square-acre island off the Garden Peninsula in Lake Michigan, is 60 percent contained.
The fire ignited June 26 from a lightning strike. Since that time, firefighters have been working to contain the 127 acre fire to the northern reaches of the island in order to protect a historic lighthouse and two associated buildings.
After a successful burnout operation earlier this week that helped reduce the amount of vegetation on the ground, firefighters have successfully protected the lighthouse, which sits on the southern tip of the island.
Over the next week, 12 firefighters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service will be extinguishing hot spots near the fire’s edge to secure the perimeter and to ensure the fire does not grow in size. Rain and high humidity settling in will moderate fire behavior and assist firefighters with their work.
Given the very thick timber and deep peat the fire is burning in, reaching full containment will be a slow process. It is expected to smolder until sustained wetting rain, snow and moisture puts the fire out midwinter.
On hot, dry windy days, smoke may become visible as the fire torches standing dead trees in the fire’s interior. If this occurs, high winds aloft may push smoke far distances that may be observed inland.
Due to the remote location and the risks associated with putting firefighters onto an island with poor radio communication, firefighters will be monitoring the fire by air. If conditions require firefighters to access the fire area in the future, they will cautiously.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore rangers are providing transportation to the island. Access to the island will be dependent upon the conditions of the lake.