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Evacuation orders lifted, I-75 reopens in Northern Michigan as wildfire continues to burn

<i>From Michigan State Police Seventh District/Twitter</i><br/>A wildfire in Crawford County
From Michigan State Police Seventh District/Twitter
A wildfire in Crawford County

By Andy Rose and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

(CNN) — Evacuation orders have been lifted and Interstate 75 has reopened near Grayling Township in Northern Michigan, state officials said, after a wildfire prompted the closure of the freeway Saturday and forced nearby residents to leave their homes.

North and southbound lanes along I-75 in Crawford County had reopened as of late Saturday evening, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, while the state Department of Natural Resources announced in a statement overnight evacuation orders had been lifted. A temporary flight restriction remains in place for a 5-mile perimeter around the fire.

The blaze, centered in Grayling Township about 50 miles from Traverse City, was estimated at about 2,400 acres, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said, though officials earlier said it had burned through at least 3,600 acres.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, the Department of Natural Resources said in its statement overnight.

A day earlier, the fire was spreading west and southwest and threatening multiple buildings, the department said in a Saturday statement, as firefighters fought the flames from the ground and the air, with aircraft scooping water from Neff Lake, Shellenbarger Lake and Lake Margrethe.

The wildfire produced thick smoke in the area Saturday, and the department warned nearby residents to limit exposure to wildfire smoke by staying indoors with windows shut.

Crawford County Sheriff Ryan Swope said in a statement power in the area has been shut off for the safety of firefighters working under power lines.

The fire is burning as Michigan sees “unprecedented” hot and dry conditions for this time of year, setting the stage for extreme fire danger, the Department of Natural Resources said Saturday.

Warm temperatures, low humidity, gusty winds and dry fuels will all combine to fuel the risk of fires in the days ahead, the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids said in a tweet.

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CNN’s Travis Nichols contributed to this report.

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