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Amidst rash of brush fires, a warning issued

WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Firefighters in West Michigan say the risk of brush fires spreading is very high right now.

During the last five days, we've heard more than a dozen reports of brush fires across West Michigan, with many areas listed as a high-risk category.

That designation is forcing firefighters to yet again send out a warning.

In Paw Paw on Wednesday afternoon, flames spread quickly in a brush fire on County Road 653.

Paw Paw firefighters tell Newschannel 3 that it started small, and quickly spread to three barns and a house.

"Plus, we had about 8 to 10 acres of land burning, skipped the road on us," said Paw Paw Fire Chief Jim DeGroff. "We just had a real mess when we got here."

A fire danger map from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shows what firefighters and homeowners are up against.

From Muskegon County through Van Buren County, at least 15 areas are considered high danger for fires at this point.

That takes into account factors like wind, rain, and temperature.

Firefighters say many things can affect how quickly a fire gets out of control, including how far off the road it is, as well as wind conditions.

"It will drive a fire quicker, faster; fuels it, so it can be a problem," explained Oshtemo Township Assistant Fire Chief Jim Wiley.

The wind Wednesday afternoon was hitting around 15-to-20 miles per hour, and the situation off County Road 653 could have been much worse as emergency crews were able to save the family's home.

Now, firefighters are stressing that looks could be deceiving.

"Be careful burning; you might think it's okay, but it's dry out here," DeGroff advised.

Firefighters advise you make sure you have a burn permit. If you get one, that means conditions are okay.

Also, have plenty of water around and always keep an eye on your fire.