Wisconsin fire experts remind Wisconsinites that we’re entering a critical period for forest fire potential and it’s essential to regularly check fire danger and burning restrictions.
Since March 1, DNR firefighters have responded to 500 wildfires that have burned more than 1600 acres. Fire danger is expected to increase over the weekend, due in part to the fact that southern Wisconsin has received less rain than normal.
Additionally, the state’s greatest tree species of concern, pines, are in a phenomenon called the “spring dip.” During this time, moisture content in the needles is low while the starch content is high. This combination, which is not visible to the naked eye, means that pine trees are more likely to catch fire during a wildfire and crown fires (fires in the tree tops) are possible. The timing of this phenomenon coincides with the greening-up of ground vegetation and leafing out of trees, which can cause people to let their guard down.
May 5th marks the 16th anniversary of the Cottonville Fire, which burned 3,410 acres in Adams County. The fire burned a swath of forest land and residential property 1.5 miles wide and 7 miles long; 90 buildings were destroyed, including 9 year-round homes, 21 seasonal homes, and 60 outbuildings. The fire was started by a person who failed to follow burning permit restrictions.
Burning permits for residential debris burning are frequently suspended this time of year when fire danger increases. Check the day’s burning restrictions every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online. Larger piles and daytime burning require a special permit from the DNR. Piling your debris in a campfire pit does not make it acceptable to burn during the day. Remember: If your property is outside the DNR protection area, check with local officials for burning restrictions.