Image: Michigan wildfire
Michigan Department Of Natural Resources  /  AP
A Michigan Department of Natural Resources photo shows a wildfire that grew by 17 percent to more than 21,000 acres Saturday, May 26, 2012, as officials warned of tough conditions and welcomed help from water-dumping aircraft from the Michigan National Guard. (AP Photo/Michigan Department of Natural Resources)
updated 5/26/2012 7:32:37 PM ET 2012-05-26T23:32:37

A wildfire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula grew by 17 percent to more than 21,000 acres Saturday as officials warned of tough conditions and welcomed help from water-dumping aircraft from the Michigan National Guard.

Wind gusts were predicted at 15 mph and high temperatures were in the 60s in a dry, remote part of the state where access has been tricky because there are few roads. Tahquamenon Falls State Park, a popular destination for campers seven miles from the fire, was closed.

The fire, known as the Duck Lake Fire, was 20 percent contained in Luce County, about 75 miles northeast of the Mackinac Bridge, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said. The fire was described as long and narrow, stretching 11 miles north to Lake Superior.

Fewer than 100 people have been evacuated, said Dean Wilson, a spokesman for the fire management team.

PhotoBlog: Michigan wildfire grows to more than 21,000 acres

More than 40 structures have been threatened and at least six are lost. It's not clear whether they were homes or outbuildings. Wilson said he didn't have an update Saturday.

"Structure protection is high priority and is being closely monitored from the air. ... Potential for blow-up conditions" continues, the Department of Natural Resources said in a statement.

The Rainbow Lodge, which includes a campground, motel and cabins near Lake Superior, was closed. A recorded message by co-owner Kathy Robinson said she had been evacuated and that the property may have been damaged by fire.

"I'm sorry," she said.

Story: Giant New Mexico fire nears historic mining town

Some people more than 100 miles away in the northern Lower Peninsula reported smelling smoke. The Michigan National Guard dispatched four aircraft and 40 people to the Duck Lake fire and another in Schoolcraft County.

"The Blackhawks typically hoist 900-gallon buckets to unload water on fires. This method has proven very successful in wildfires in other regions," said a spokesman, Capt. Aaron Jenkins.

Wilson said curious people on all-terrain vehicles must stay away.

"It's not a big problem but it does exist. If the wind picks up, the ignition of dry fuel is almost instantaneous," he said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Severe weather clouds holiday weekend

  1. Closed captioning of: Severe weather clouds holiday weekend

    >>> to as the unofficial start of summer, this memorial day weekend is feeling a lot like the middle of summer. from temperatures approaching the century mark in the country's midsection, a subtropical storm system taking aim. tonight, tropical storm warnings are up from northern to south carolina for beryl, the second named storm of the season that doesn't officially begin until next week. and then there is the heat with temperatures in the 90s up and down the middle of the country and on top of that, dangerous brush fires in the west. kerry sanders has more on the weather's impact on this busy holiday weekend.

    >> reporter: from storms to wild fires to extreme heat, mother nature does not seem willing to let everyone relax this holiday weekend. among the most anxious spots in the nation, central kansas, where as many as five tornados touched down just before down destroyed homes and businesses. even the division of emergency management was hit. luckily, no one was killed. in various states including arizona, new mexico and michigan, strong winds combined with dry conditions are blamed for raging wildfires. campers invaded the u.p. of michigan. so r far, 21,000 acres have burned. in arizona, 25 mile per hour winds are fuelling the so-called gladuater fire. it's burned more than 16,000 acres so far, but here, good news. firefighters have now gained control of 30% of it. in orlando, a wildfire that had sent clouds of smoke near theme parks today was contained. intersate 4 now reopened. from the indy 500 to chicago to a good portion of the nation, temperatures today were unusually hot. in the 90s. in miami shores . the heat today drove a graduation party into the air-conditioning.

    >> how was the graduation?

    >> really nice. it was in doors. it was cool. no one had to stand outside in the heat.

    >> reporter: from jacksonville to south carolina , beryl has where i happened up the surf. in georgia, life guards have rescued more than 20 people caught in the powerful ocean action. officials in some communities have now closed the beaches to swimming. wading and suntanning is still just fine. while beryl will ruin some barbecues and rooftop parties, it will also bring muff needed rain to one of the most drought stricken areas in our region.


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