Wildfire danger very high now

Posted at 3 p.m. on May 14, 2021

The Brillion News

MADISON – The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking the public to stay vigilant and avoid burning because of very high fire danger across Wisconsin, particularly in the northern two-thirds of the state.

The increased fire danger is due to the low relative humidities expected across the state, with the lowest values expected across northern Wisconsin.

Temperatures will be warm and the air over Wisconsin will be dry, which are weather conditions that aid in the spread of fires.


Areas with VERY HIGH danger today include Adams, Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Burnett, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Door, Douglas, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Forest, Florence, Green Lake, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Portage, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Shawano, Sheboygan, Taylor, Vilas, Washburn, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago and Wood counties.

Areas with HIGH fire danger today include Buffalo, Dunn, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix and Trempealeau counties.

There is MODERATE fire danger in Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Lafayette, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Vernon, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties.

It was eight years ago on May 14 that under similar conditions that the Germann Road Fire – one of the largest wildfires in Wisconsin in more than 30 years – consumed 7,499 acres and destroyed 104 structures (23 of them residences) in the Towns of Gordon and Highland in Douglas County and the Town of Barnes in Bayfield County.

Although the Germann Road Fire was started unintentionally from a logging crew harvesting timber on industrial timber lands, burning debris is the leading cause of Wisconsin’s wildfires. Forty percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin this year alone have been related to debris burning.

The DNR has responded to 611 wildfires burning more than 1,700 acres so far this year, plus many more suppressed by local fire departments and federal agencies – 53 of those fires occurred last week alone.

People are asked to be extra careful with any outdoor flames, campfires, ash disposal or equipment use, checking any recent debris burns for smoldering embers, as breezy conditions can cause fires to rekindle.


FIRE SAFETY TIPS

  • Burn permits for debris burning will likely be suspended in several counties over the coming days until conditions improve.

  • 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 dragging trailer chains.

  • Delay having campfires until the evening hours as fire conditions tend to improve.

  • Keep campfires small and contained.

  • Report fires early, before trying to put them out yourself. Dial 911 statewide to report a fire.