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 St. Clair Shores firefighters contain a grass fire on Interstate 94 July 7.

St. Clair Shores firefighters contain a grass fire on Interstate 94 July 7.

Photos provided by Charrette Fire Photography


Firefighters knock down freeway grass fire

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 10, 2020

 Firefighters spray water on a grass fire that kept spreading north due to the wind.

Firefighters spray water on a grass fire that kept spreading north due to the wind.

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Dry weather conditions and high temperatures contributed to a high possibility of a brush fire occurring locally during the first week of July, and that potential flared up recently on eastbound Interstate 94 between Stephens Street and 10 Mile Road.

“The (Department of Natural Resources) was reporting (a) high possibility for brush fire,” St. Clair Shores Fire Chief James Piper said. 

At 7:41 p.m. July 7, the St. Clair Shores Fire Department was called to the eastbound side of I-94, just north of 10 Mile Road, where something had sparked a fire in the grass along the highway. Piper said the actual cause of the fire is undetermined, but it could have been sparked by a discarded cigarette or sparking brakes. Luckily, he said, the grass had been cut recently.

“It covered approximately a quarter mile,” he said. “We had some bigger areas of fire and then the wind was blowing a little bit to the north at the time ... carrying lit firebrands that would cause another spot fire.”

Firefighters immediately called for another engine because the excessive smoke made the fire look larger than it actually was, Piper said. 

“They pretty quickly got to work putting it out and even had another engine come to the scene,” he explained.

Firefighters attacked the fires with water cans and brooms, he said, to beat down the flare-ups.

“They put a good stop on it and then they started getting it mopped up,” Piper said. “About the time they had it completed was when it finally started to rain. The rain ensured it didn’t flare up again.”

The right lane of the highway was shut down while firefighters were on the scene.

Piper said that while the fire was easily extinguished, brush fires of that sort don’t usually happen in the area because St. Clair Shores doesn’t have many large, grassy areas. 

Between the weather conditions and the wind tunnel-like atmosphere of the freeway, “that contributed to the fire spread, but the crews had it contained really well.”

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