Forestry officials suggest caution with fireworks
By: Amy Luebke, DNR
Each year the use of both legal and illegal fireworks causes wildfires in Wisconsin. Anyone using legal fireworks should do so only in a clear area away from buildings, vehicles and shrubbery and should have water or a fire extinguisher handy. Remember that wildfires can occur anytime the ground is not snow covered. Make sure you are aware of your local weather conditions and plan accordingly. Fireworks can cause wildfires. Don’t let your fun turn into flames!
Fire danger is at High to Very High today, May 15 in several areas. The WI DNR is suspending burning permits for debris piles and broadcast burns in many counties due to forecasted winds, low humidity and dry vegetation. Please use caution outdoors with anything that could cause a spark including chainsaws, dragging trailer chains, and even hot exhaust systems from off-road vehicles. For the current fire restrictions, visit https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.html
Wildfire Report for May 2, 2019
Widespread precipitation has kept wildfire activity low lately. In the past week, 63 wildfires burned 54 acres in DNR protection areas (approximately half the state); 35 homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance and 3 buildings were destroyed. Debris burning was the most common cause (30 fires); equipment was the second most common cause (17 fires). Other minor causes included power line, campfires, and ash disposal. As the vegetation dries out on the days we don’t receive rain, expect fire danger to increase, particularly in areas where standing dead grass and other dry vegetation remains.
If you choose to conduct outdoor burning, remember that a free annual burning permit is required to burn small piles of debris and to burn in a burn barrel in DNR protection areas. Burning permits are frequently suspended this time of year when fire danger increases. You must check the day’s burning restrictions every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online at dnr.wi.gov, keyword ‘fire danger’. Larger piles and daytime burning requires a special permit from a DNR Ranger. Piling your debris in a campfire pit does not make it okay to burn during the day. If your property is outside a DNR protection area, check with local officials for burning restrictions.
Remove leaves and needles from your roof, around your foundation and under your deck to prevent ignition by a flying ember.
Firewise Tip: Homeowners are encouraged to make weekly checks around your home or cabin for windblown leaves and needles on your roof, around your foundation, and under decks and elevated porches; keep these areas clean. The debris that collects in these places could be easily ignited by flying embers produced during a wildfire.
Increased fire danger
Expect to see strong, gusty winds today (Friday, April 26) ahead of a storm front as fire danger ranges from High to Very High statewide. There are burning permit suspensions in 27 counties. Check burning permit restrictions at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire.” Sparks from campfires, hot equipment, woodstove ashes also a concern today, until the rain or snow arrives and winds are calm. Fire crews will be on high alert and shifting ground resources in areas of elevated risk. In addition, three contract single-engine air tankers are on stand-by for quick initial attack, stationed in Necedah and Siren. Report fires early by dialing 911. Check fire restrictions here.
Never leave your fire unattended and make sure it’s completely out before you leave.
It’s Wildfire Prevention Week!
One way you can help us celebrate, is to get a free DNR burn permit before burning. It takes less than two minutes and we can email you the burn permit right away. Or, call our hotline 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) and customer service can issue you one over the phone. Then, on the day of the burn, call or check online for the fire danger and burn restrictions in your county after 11 am. Never leave your fire unattended and make sure it’s completely out before you leave. Got questions or not in an area where the DNR regulates? Local fire officials are always willing to help. Following these simple steps can greatly decrease your chances of starting a wildfire. Visit this page to get your free DNR burn permit.
Half the fires last week were caused by debris burning.
Last week 72 wildfires burned 177 acres in DNR Protection Areas;. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning (brush and leaf piles, burn barrel use, burning household trash and broadcast burning). Other minor causes included campfires, equipment, power line and improper ash disposal. Forty buildings were threatened by wildfires but saved by fire suppression actions; four were destroyed.
The DNR wants to remind everyone to be careful with anything that can start a wildfire when you’re out fishing, hunting, camping, doing yard work, or looking for mushrooms. Fire danger can vary greatly from one day to the next this time of the year, depending on weather and dryness of the vegetation. Check this site for current statewide fire danger and burning permit restrictions: dnr.wi.gov (search ‘fire danger’).
Firewise Tip: Wondering if your home is in an area at risk for wildfire? Go through our checklist and find out.
Last week 14 wildfires burned 39 acres in DNR Protection Areas; nine of the fires were caused by debris burning. Five buildings were threatened by wildfires, but saved by fire suppression actions; one was destroyed. Snow is quickly melting in parts of the state that still have partial snow cover. This time of year there is still a great deal of dead vegetation that dries out quickly and is available fuel for a wildfire. Low relative humidity, warm temps, and gusty winds quickly drive up the fire danger. Stay aware of fire danger and burning restrictions by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or check online at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire”. Curious about where wildfires are actively burning? Check out our fire activity webpage at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire” and click on “View current wildfire activity.”
A warming or cooking fire on a windy day can quickly become an out of control wildfire.
Firewise Tip: Turkey hunters are reminded to be extra cautious with anything that can start a wildfire when you’re outdoors. Be especially mindful of the weather. A warming or cooking fire on a windy day can quickly become an out of control wildfire.
A total of 26 wildfires burned in DNR Protection Areas over the past week, burning 73 acres. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning. Eleven buildings were threatened and one was destroyed. Widespread rain and snow then lowered fire danger across the state.
The safest time to burn leaves, brush and pine needles is when the ground is completely snow-covered.
Spring is wildfire season and it’s important to remember that storm systems bringing snow and rain give a short reprieve in fire danger. While burning debris should always be your last alternative, the safest time to burn leaves, brush and pine needles is when the ground is completely snow-covered and will remain so for the duration of the burn.
As we dry out, expect fire danger to increase. There is plenty of dead grass and fallen leaves on the land that makes it easy for a wildfire to start and spread. Stay apprised of fire weather conditions by checking the DNR fire danger webpage each day after 11 a.m.: dnr.wi.gov, keyword “‘fire”.
Firewise Tip: Remove leaves and other debris that has accumulated next to buildings, in lawns, and on and under decks. Take special care to clean out dead material from evergreen shrubs near buildings. Compost these materials or take to a leaf collection site.
Ask yourself, is it safe to burn that debris pile today?
Warmer temperatures have caused several southern Wisconsin counties to jump to HIGH fire danger, while others are seeing rapid snow-melt or flooding near riverways. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of variation on Wisconsin’s landscape in the days to come. Spring is wildfire season and conditions can dry out quickly on warm and windy days, especially in areas of grass or light vegetation. It’s a good reminder that fire danger and burning restrictions can change daily. Be safe out there– check before you burn! https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.html
Wildfire danger starts to change as the vegetation greens up and we get regular rainfall.
Green up of vegetation and regular rains have kept fire danger Low to Moderate in southern Wisconsin. Fire danger ranged from Moderate to Very High in northern Wisconsin. The progression of green up statewide and predicted rain over the weekend is expected to quell the fire danger even further. Over the past week, 72 wildfires burned 147 acres in DNR Protection Areas. Recent wildfire causes have been equipment, debris burning, fireworks, power line, railroad and campfires.
Firewise Tip: Make sure campfires are made in a fire-safe pit or container. Clear an area 10 feet around the fire pit and never burn when it’s windy. Before leaving, drown your campfire thoroughly with water, stir the ashes and add more water until it’s out cold.
This concludes the wildfire report until conditions cause the fire danger to rise. As a recap, 639 wildfires burned 1,802 acres this spring; 53 structures were destroyed and another 441 were threatened, but saved with firefighter assistance. Be mindful of the weather and any drying conditions as we head into summer. Stay informed of statewide fire danger by checking our Fire web page as a part your outdoor work and recreation routine.