The Stephan Bridge Road Fire, which began on May 8, 1990, eventually spread across 5,916 acres of wildland/urban interface area near Crawford, Michigan. The fire eventually destroyed more than 76 homes, and 125 other structures, plus 37 vehicles and boats. Losses from the fire were estimated at $5.5 million, plus $700,000 in destroyed timber (all told, $10.8 million in today’s dollars).
The fire originated from a controlled burn which rekindled seven weeks after the initial ignition, and spread to nearby ground fuels. The weather played a significant role in this fire: low rainfall, rising temperatures, and high winds combined to dry out the forest and ground fuels. Then, during fire suppression, strong gusting winds sent the fire out of control in a new direction.
This wildfire represents just one example of the risks of building homes in the wildland urban interface. NFPA members can read the full investigation report. Anyone interested in fire hazards and safety in the wildland urban interface can visit http://www.firewise.org/.