Fire management

Elevated Wildfire Risk: Firefighters ask for public’s help by not burning

Thirty-five wildfires burned in Wisconsin over the last week and elevated fire danger expected this weekend over most of the state (4/17-4/19).  A good reminder that, we work for you— so, please avoid burning for us!

Wildland Firefighters go to work for you. Please avoid bruning for them.

Firefighters need your help, as we enter the peak of Wisconsin’s wildfire season. Responding to a wildfire increases the risk of COVID-19 exposure through crowding of resources and geographic travel of emergency responders and firefighters.  Many DNR firefighters and fire departments are at home working or supporting loved ones. These challenges may reduce the availability of firefighters to operate fire suppression equipment and hinder emergency response time, resulting in rapid fire growth.  In addition, smoke from wildfires or debris burning worsens coronavirus risk, putting firefighters and the public in extra danger.

In DNR protection areas, burning permits for debris burning on the ground or in burn barrels are suspended until further notice.  If the ground is completely snow-covered and will remain so for the duration of the burn, a DNR burn permit is NOT required.  Therefore, you can burn at any time.  After the snow melts, the burn permit suspensions will again be in effect. Small campfires for warming or cooking purposes are allowed, but discouraged at this time.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.  And, remember to keep an eye on the changing fire danger in the coming weeks: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.html

DNR Annual Burning Permits are Suspended

In order to protect the health and safety of our employees, partners and the public, we are taking proactive measures by suspending all DNR burning permits until further notice. All burning of debris in barrels, piles on the ground and grass or wooded areas with annual burning permits in DNR protection areas is prohibited.  DNR burn permits are not required if the ground is completely snow-covered. Campfires for warming and cooking are okay, though strongly discouraged.

WI DNR Burning Permits SuspendedSpring in Wisconsin has the highest fire risk and debris burning is the #1 cause. Eliminating ignition sources on the landscape reduces wildfire risk, smoke for vulnerable populations and person-to-person contact. Being on the front line, emergency responders and firefighters have an increased need to take pandemic precautions, so they remain available to continue to protect the public from wildfires and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

 

What does it mean for YOU when we say DNR burning permits are suspended?

By state statute, DNR fire restrictions only cover parts of the state. In others, local fire departments are responsible. When the DNR suspends burning permits, they are only suspended for the areas we cover.

If you plan to burn in a location outside of the DNR’s fire protection area, it is your responsibility to check with you local fire department to see if there are any restrictions. Many communities outside of DNR protection areas are also prohibiting the burning of debris at this time.
For the current fire danger and fire restrictions: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.html

DNR Forest FIre Protection Map

Fireworks can cause wildfires

Fireworks can cause wildfires.  Don's let your fun turn into flames.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!

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.”