In 1976, during a record drought, the largest fire in Michigan since 1908 burned from late July until winter snow finally extinguished it. The book tells the story of the fire with extensive descriptions of the natural history of the region, historical fires, fire weather, a diary of the fire, hotshot stories, the aftermath-both ecological and political, and what the future may hold for managing wildfires in the Upper Peninsula.
Using over one-hundred figures including original photos, graphs, and maps the book describes the superb job that was done in suppressing the fire, by highly skilled, professional people, dedicated to the conservation of Michigan’s and the nation’s natural resources. A recent review in the Michigan Forest Magazine said: …” (the) book gives a day-to-day summary of the fire and the resources needed to combat the fire. You will read about personal memories, scientific explanations of fire weather, and estimating fire danger. Pictures show some of the equipment and camp life on a large fire complex. A good read for any wildland firefighter or anyone interested in fire and the results of fire to the environment.”
The Walsh Ditch Fire, named for the closest landmark, more commonly known as the Seney Fire, started on July 30 from a dry lightning storm. It was spotted by aerial patrol within the designated wilderness on the Seney National Wildlife Refuge the next day. The Refuge Manager thought no action could be taken on the fire since it was in a Congressionally designated “wilderness” area. The fire grew to 1200 acres during the two weeks before any suppression action occurred. Several weeks after the initial report, the fire “blew up,” and spread out of the wilderness and off the Refuge onto State and private land. All told, the fire spread over 72,500 acres during a period of record drought, requiring an interagency firefighting force of more than 1,200 firefighters from twenty-two agencies and twenty-nine states to achieve containment at a cost (adjusted for inflation) of over forty million dollars.