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Wildfire Report for April 18, 2019

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 campfire can quickly become a wildfire on a windy day.

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.

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.

Wildfire Report

WILDFIRE REPORT FOR APRIL 4, 2019

Fire season is upon us. 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,75 fires have occurred, burning 569 acres. Main fire causes have been debris burning and equipment; 25 structures have been threatened by these fires and 2 buildings have been destroyed.

With the nicer weather, homeowners are cleaning up around their properties, sometimes choosing to burn leaves and branch debris. Debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires, especially this time of year. Burning is not your only option. Try alternatives such as composting or leaving brush in the woods for wildlife cover. The best practice is to not burn at all or to wait until surrounding vegetation greens-up in the summer. If you wish to burn, get a burning permit and follow the rules of the day. You can stay aware of fire danger and burning permit requirements by checking our website dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire” or calling 1-888-WIS-BURN. Information is updated each day at 11 a.m.

Firewood stacked at least 30 feet from the home

Move firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.

Firewise Tip:  If you burn wood for home heating, it’s time to move any remaining firewood stacked near your home to a spot that’s at least 30 feet away. If you dump wood ash outdoors, spread the ash in an area free of vegetation and debris and drown with water to make sure any hidden embers are fully extinguished. Or leave the ash in a metal bucket with a tight- fitting lid until it is completely cool.

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

Preparing for wildfire: what you can do in a weekend

It’s late August. The days are noticeably shorter, southerly bird migration has begun, and (gasp!) kids will be going back to school soon. You’re probably also noticing that your bounty of flowering plants is looking a bit ragged. To help shorten your list of fall clean-up chores, get a jump on things now! Your property will also be in better condition should a wildfire occur in your area.

Resident remove dead branches from around their home to reduce their risk should a wildfire occure in their area.

Removing dead trees, branches and shrubs from around you home can help reduce your wildfire risk should a wildfire occur in your area.

While we see most Wisconsin wildfire activity in the spring, fires can occur any time of the year when snow is not on the ground. We see spikes in occurrence in summer during dry spells and again in autumn when the leaves fall and the ground vegetation cures. All this dry matter can become fuel for a wildfire. Removing this debris is particularly important if you live or own property in a community at risk. In short, these are areas where sandy soils, oaks and pine trees are abundant.

What can you do? Start with the area immediately around your home and work outwards from there. Cut back the flowering plants that have faded and compost the debris. Remove any dead trees, branches or shrubs. If you have evergreens around your home, look at how close they are to one another. Evergreens are especially flammable; consider removing any trees necessary to keep at least 15 feet between the branches from tree to tree within 30 feet of buildings. Prune lower branches up and away from the ground. Check your town’s website for info on timing of curbside brush pick-up or brush collection site hours. These types of services are generally offered on a limited basis, so don’t miss out! For more info on ways to prepare your home for wildfire, check out our website!

Burning Questions: Is my campfire really a campfire?

The first step in campfire safety is to understand the difference between a campfire and a fire to dispose of debris.

A campfire is kept small and used for cooking or warming.

A campfire is kept small and used for cooking or warming.

• Campfires are solely for warming or cooking purposes, are smaller in size and comprised of clean and dry wood, contained within a designated fire ring or surrounded by rocks. Campfires are allowed anytime, except when Emergency Burning Restrictions are in effect.

 

Burning in a fire ring with the intent to eliminate debris is not a campfire.

Burning in a fire ring with the intent to eliminate debris is not a campfire.

 

 

• Burning in a fire ring with the intent to eliminate debris is NOT a campfire and does require a burning permit in DNR protection areas.  A permit can be obtained from your local Emergency Fire Warden, or from the website http://dnr.wi.gov keyword “burn”, or by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876).

 

No matter what type of outdoor fire you have, check the daily burning restrictions for your area before ignition and never leave a fire unattended.  Don’t forget that embers can remain hot for days after the fire has burned down to ashes, so make sure to use plenty of water and stir the ashes to ensure they are out cold.  Remember, you may be held responsible for all suppression costs and potentially any damages associated if your fire escapes.

Fireworks cause forest fires

Fireworks can cause wildfiresThe Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources urges people to take precautions and prevent wildfires caused by fireworks now and during the next few weeks.  Most wildfires caused by fireworks occur around the July 4th holiday or under extended drought conditions, but the reality is, wildfires can occur anytime the ground is not completely snow-covered.

Exploding fireworks, such as firecrackers, m-70’s, bottle rockets, and roman candles, cause the most fireworks-caused wildfires.  Paired with hot and dry weather, even sparklers and fountains pose a significant threat in dry grassy areas.  Anyone responsible for starting a wildfire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out, but also for any damages.

Fireworks are restricted in Wisconsin and permits may be required.  It’s best to check with local officials before purchasing and lighting them. A city, village, town or county may also enact an ordinance more strictly limiting fireworks sales or possessing them.

In addition, the DNR does prohibit the use of all fireworks on state lands including state parks, state forests and state owned public hunting and fishing properties.  Anyone planning on camping in a Wisconsin state park or forest for the Fourth of July should enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities — not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks, forests and trails.

As of the last week of June, fire dangers levels throughout Wisconsin were low across the state, but even in low fire danger times, fireworks can start wildfires. So far in 2018, DNR records show nearly 700 wildfires have burned more over 1,800 acres in DNR fire protection areas of Wisconsin. Wildfires caused by fireworks only amount to 5 percent of the annual total; however, these fires typically occur in a condensed timeframe around the Fourth of July holiday.

For more information about how to prevent wildfires from fireworks, visit the DNR homepage at dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “wildfire causes.”

Time together means time to talk wildfire

Adams County Association Meeting

Property owners at an annual association meeting in Adams County test their wildfire knowledge.

Do you have a meeting or event with your neighborhood association this summer?  If your area is at risk to wildfire then this is a great opportunity to raise awareness of fire risk, educate people about local burning restrictions and review actions people can take to prepare their properties ahead of the flames.  Learn more at dnr.wi.gov, search “fire”.

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