The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking the public to avoid burning due to critical fire danger across northern Wisconsin. A fire weather watch is in effect and the DNR and partners at the National Weather Service (NWS) are closely monitoring the situation.
The sandy pines areas of northern Wisconsin are always the slowest to green up. Additionally tree growth in this part of the state is at a volatile stage. Combined with very low humidity and the potential for winds, fires could spread out of control rapidly at this time.
Areas with VERY HIGH fire danger today include Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Oconto, Oneida, Polk, Price, Sawyer, Vilas and Washburn counties.
Areas with HIGH fire danger include Barron, Chippewa, Marathon, Menominee, Rusk, Shawano and Taylor counties.
All DNR issued annual burning permits for debris piles, burn barrels and prescribed burns are suspended today in 21 counties where the DNR has burning permit authority.
The DNR has responded to 281 wildfires burning more than 3,358 acres so far this year. Most of these were related to debris burning, which is the single largest cause of wildfires in Wisconsin.
Warm temperatures, dry air and windy conditions in the forecast across the north will keep fire danger elevated throughout the week until a chance of rain moves in on Thursday night.
The current fire danger in the southern half of the state is low as vegetation has greened up and the area has received periodic rain over the last few weeks.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- Avoid outdoor burning until conditions improve. Burn permits for debris burning are currently suspended in numerous counties.
- Operate equipment (chainsaws, off-road vehicles, lawn mowers, etc.) early in the morning or late in the day to avoid sparks at peak burn hours.
- Secure trailer chains to keep them from dragging.
- Delay having campfires until the evening hours as fire conditions tend to improve; keep them small and contained. Make sure they are completely extinguished before leaving them unattended.
- Report fires early, dial 911.
Fire control officials are pre-positioning equipment for rapid response including two Wisconsin Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters stationed in Rhinelander and two single engine air tankers in Solon Springs.
May 14 marked the 10-year anniversary of the Germann Road Fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties, which burned 7,499 acres and destroyed 104 structures, 23 of which were residences. An estimated 350 structures were saved due to fire control efforts. The fire began around 2:45 p.m. on May 14, 2013, and covered a swatch nearly 10 miles long and 1.5 miles wide before being declared 100% contained on May 15 at 9 p.m.