A Smokey Bear sighting in Oneida County this week. This highly recognizable symbol of fire prevention has finally awakened from hibernation, just in time for ‘Wildfire Prevention Week,’ April 15-21. Spring is Wisconsin’s peak season for wildfires. Warm, windy and dry conditions have resulted in over 160 wildfires in the southern half of the state this year, as the snow-melt is slowly progressing to the north. Don’t worry. Smokey is very approachable, friendly and loves to give bear hugs. Do your part to help Smokey by getting a free DNR burning permit and making sure those fires are out before you leave. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/index.asp
by: Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist
Rooted deep in Wisconsin’s forest fire control history, the Emergency Fire Warden (EFW) program is a long-standing partnership that has benefitted the State of Wisconsin since the turn of the century. While the role and number of EFWs has changed significantly over time, evolving from detection and suppression duties to the current role of mainly issuing burning permits, a few of those iconic ‘fire warden’ signs continue to hang on fence posts in small, rural communities throughout Wisconsin.
Since 1885, Wisconsin’s emergency fire wardens have been on the front line of forest fire control, promoting fire prevention and helping to fight fires. Fire wardens were expected to post fire warnings, prohibit burning during dry months and report on fires. Fire wardens were often the first to report forest fires to the local fire departments and ranger stations. They also organized, hired and served on fire-fighting crews.
Men and women from all walks of life volunteered to become emergency fire wardens; farmers, shopkeepers, mechanics, teachers, tavern owners, loggers, paper mill employees, retired couples and many others. In addition to fighting fires, they were asked to issue burning permits and keep track of who was burning and where, in case a fire was to get out of control. Continue reading “The honored role of the emergency fire warden, yesterday and today”
Fire season is just beginning. Each year an estimated 1,100 wildfires burn in DNR protection areas (about half the state, generally the more forested areas) and another estimated 2,500 wildfires burn in parts of the state where fire departments are the primary responders. Two-thirds of these fires occur in spring. There is a great deal of dry vegetation and fallen leaves and other debris present this time of year, which is quick to dry out. Accompanied by warmer weather, drops in humidity and gusty winds, wildfires can quickly ignite and spread. So far this year, 57 fires have occurred in DNR Protection Areas. Main fire causes have been debris burning and equipment. Fourteen homes and 12 outbuildings have been threatened by these fires and 3 outbuildings have been destroyed.
Wisconsin has already had more than 200 wildfires in 2017 since the snow-cover disappeared with the potential of more before vegetation greens up and the fire danger subsides.
More than 98 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin are caused by people. The majority of these fires result from careless burning of debris on the ground in piles or burn barrels. Something as simple as getting a burning permit or being aware of the daily fire danger can prevent a wildfire.
Find out which counties have suspended burning permits and witness real-time fire activity by visiting dnr.wi.gov and enter keyword “fire.” To see the DNR fire control ‘gearing up for fire season,’ visit the DNR homepage and watch the short video of all the efforts it takes protect Wisconsin’s valuable resources.
Read more in this news release or contact Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele (firstname.lastname@example.org), 715-356-5211 x208 (office), 608-219-9075 (cell).