Fire season

Wildfire Report

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.

Burning brush when the ground is completely snow covered.

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.

Is it safe to burn that debris pile today?

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 begins to change with weather conditions

Wildfire danger starts to decrease as vegetation greens up and we get regular rainfall.

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.

Homes can survive a wildfire!

The Pleasant Valley Fire in Eau Claire Co. occurred on April 30th, burned 122 acres and 1 structure. Fortunately, 19 structures were threatened and saved.

The Pleasant Valley Fire in Eau Claire Co. occurred on April 30th, burned 122 acres and 1 structure. Fortunately, 19 structures were threatened and saved.

With fire season still lingering in the north, the DNR has reported 53 structures destroyed by wildfires so far this year.  The good news is, 439 were also threatened yet saved with firefighter assistance.

To find out if your home or cabin is a high wildfire risk area, ask yourself these questions: Is your place surrounded by oak or pine trees? Are your rain gutters full of pine needles? Is your lawn covered with leaves? Is there a Smokey Bear fire danger sign in your community?

 

 

You can help firefighters better protect your home and property by making simple changes to reduce wildfire risk.

You can help firefighters better protect your home and property by making simple changes to reduce wildfire risk.

If you answered “yes,” you might have some work to do! As we head into the long weekend, grab a rake and gloves, and take a peek at ways you can prepare your property for wildfire.  Avoid burning by hauling the debris to a brush & leaf drop-off site or compost the material. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/preparing.html

Fire danger ranges from Low to Extreme

Statewide fire danger ranged from Low to Extreme this week, depending on progression of green-up and rainfall received; 68 fires burned 141 acres in DNR Protection Areas. The largest fire of the week was the “White River Fire” in Bayfield County which burned 42 acres and was caused by a campfire. The main fire causes this week were debris burning (e.g., brush, leaves, trash, burn barrel, broadcast burning) and equipment (e.g., vehicle exhaust, sparks from tow chains dragging, farm disking machine).

People are urged to continue to use caution with all types of outdoor burning, campfires, ash disposal and equipment use. Property owners are reminded to remain present when burning debris in a barrel or on the ground – should your fire escape, you can be held responsible for the cost of fire suppression and any damages resulting from the escaped fire. Clear an area around the pile or barrel and make sure a hose is attached to a working spigot. Wet down the burned area before leaving. Stay aware of the current fire danger for your area by checking our website: dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire”.

Firewise Tip: Practice safe towing. Chains dragging on the road can ignite dry grass along the road. Use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains. If you need to stop and check what you’re towing, do not pull your vehicle over dry grass – hot exhaust and mufflers can start fires.

Wildfire Report

Tractor plow on White Birch Fire in Dunbar, WI

White Birch Fire in Dunbar, WI

Statewide fire danger ranged from Low to Very High this past week. 88 fires burned 156 acres in DNR Protection Areas; 12 buildings were destroyed and another 30 were threatened, but saved with firefighter assistance. The main wildfire causes this week were debris burning and equipment. The largest fire of the week burned 27 acres in Langlade County, caused by a campfire.

People are urged to continue to use caution with all types of outdoor burning, ash disposal and equipment use.  Property owners are reminded to remain present when burning debris in a barrel or on the ground – should your fire escape, you can be held responsible for the cost of fire suppression and any damages resulting from the escaped fire.  Clear an area around the pile or barrel and make sure a hose is attached to a working spigot. Wet down the burned area before leaving. Stay aware of the current fire danger for your area by checking our website: dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire”.

Germann Road Fire Photo

Germann Road Fire

May 14 marks the 5th anniversary of the Germann Road Fire that burned 7,442 acres and 100 buildings (including 22 homes and cabins) in Douglas County.

Firewise Tip: Are there any branches or dead trees close to power lines near your property?  Ask the power company to clear them.

Five-Year Anniversary of the Germann Road fire

5-Year Anniversary commemorating the Germann Road FIreWhile spring is always much-welcomed after Wisconsin’s long winters, seasonal warm and dry conditions can result in increased wildfire activity.  Northwest Wisconsin is taking a moment to highlight and remember the efforts that went into battling the historic Germann Road Fire as well as the recovery efforts still going on today by hosting an open forum on May 12, 2018.  There will be a brief presentation about the fire, as well as what the burnt area looks like today as the community and landscape continues to recover.

Tractor plow on the Germann Road Fire in 2013

Tractor plow on the Germann Road Fire in 2013

On May 14, 2013, logging equipment sparked the Germann Road Fire in Douglas County that resulted in 7,499 acres burned and numerous structures lost before crossing into Bayfield County.  Light rain moved through the area that morning dampening only the fine surface vegetation for a fleeting period.  When the sun broke through the clouds, the landscape rapidly dried out becoming a prime receptor for a spark.  At 2:45 pm, Brule DNR dispatch started a response that would last the next two days.  The fire threatened approximately 450 structures and destroyed 104, including 23 primary residences before being declared contained on May 15.

Germann Road Fire photo from the air

Germann Road Fire

One-hundred sixty-seven Wisconsin DNR personnel with 32 tractor plows, 5 heavy bulldozers and 100 fire engines worked feverishly to contain the fire, while 44 fire departments protected structures threatened by fire.  This was the largest use of aircraft for fire suppression purposes on a fire in Wisconsin’s history.  Thirteen aircraft including both fixed-wing and helicopters supported the efforts of ground crews.

Germann Road Fire PhotoIn the years following, many of the homes and buildings have been rebuilt, yet some remain as a constant reminder of the fire-prone environment in northwest Wisconsin.  Vast expanses of burnt forest have been opened giving way to new life on the landscape.  In areas where tall pines once stood young seedlings are taking hold and reclaiming the ashes.

Please join the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff  and other first responders at the Barnes Town Hall on Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 10:00 am until noon to learn more about the Germann Road Fire and the recovery that continues today.  Barnes Town Hall is located at 3360 County Highway N, Barnes, WI 54873.

Contact Ben Garrett, Wildland Urban Interface Specialist, for more information about this event. (715) 635-4088.  For more information on Wildfire in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov search “fire.”

Follow Smokey’s lead, check the fire danger

Smokey Bear FishingBefore you fry up that big catch over a campfire this weekend, follow Smokey’s Lead and check the fire danger.  The fishing opener is upon us and another round of dry weather is in the forecast.  Fire officials are gearing up for a busy weekend, especially in northern WI.  Before you hit the lakes, secure trailer chains, check tire pressure and maintain brakes to avoid sparks.  If you are planning to do some clean up around the yard or simply have a campfire with friends, follow the daily restrictions and make sure any permitted fires are completely out.  In the last week, the DNR responded to over 160 wildfires, mostly caused by debris burning.

Spring wildfire season continues in Wisconsin

Arial picture of the Van Beek Fire

Van Beek Fire in the Town of Stephenson burned 20 acres on April 28, 2018.

In the past week, 161 wildfires burned 520 acres in DNR protection areas (approximately half the state); 88 homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance and 15 buildings were destroyed.  Debris burning was the most common cause (67 fires); other causes included equipment, power line, railroad, campfires, ash disposal, and smoking. The largest fire of the week burned 124 acres and threatened 13 buildings in Eau Claire County, the cause was debris burning. Fire danger ranged from Low to Extreme across the state, with Red Flag Warnings in several counties. 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. Continue reading “Spring wildfire season continues in Wisconsin”

Red Flag Warning in 7 counties

Extreme wildfire dnager exists today! Red Flag Warning

Red Flag Warning today in 7 counties

On the heels of the busiest fire day of the year, the Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with the National Weather Service has for the second day in a row issued a Red Flag Warning for today, Monday, April 30 until 7 p.m. for the following seven counties: Jackson, Trempealeau, Juneau, Monroe, Clark, La Crosse and Adams.

As a result, the Wisconsin DNR is moving to extreme fire danger in those counties and will be prohibiting burning with DNR-issued burning permits and is asking the public to be especially careful with any activities that could potentially lead to a wildland fire. Campfires, ashes from fireplaces, outdoor grills, smoking, chainsaws, off-road vehicles or other small engines have the potential to throw a spark, ignite a fire and spread quickly. Please use extreme caution until the fire weather improves.

Continue reading “Red Flag Warning in 7 counties”