Western WI in 'High to Very High' risk of wildfire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - Warm, dry weather and high winds have put Western Wisconsin at high or very high risk of brush fires.

The area saw several over the weekend with firefighters battling flames in the town of Washington, Pleasant Valley and near Eau Claire.

Both the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and firefighters said wildfire season is just now beginning, a month later than usual.

“All that dry grass and leaves and basically fire tinder is on the ground and we got breezy conditions, so we have either high or very high fire danger,” DNR Communications Specialist Ed Culhane said.

The D.N.R. said Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn counties are in high danger and Clark, Jackson, Trempealeau and La Crosse counties are in very high danger of wildfire.

Chippewa Falls Fire Chief Tom Larson said high river levels don't mean the ground isn't dry.

“The water in the rivers has been runned off and hasn't soaked into the ground. We need a good green up of the grass,” Larson said.

Campfires and grilling are still allowed, with caution, and Larson said people who live in wooded areas, need be extra careful.

“Fifteen years ago, you might have a five acre wood fire and it just burns up a small woods. Now you burn up a small woods and destroyed a $500 thousand home that was built there,” Larson said.

“You don't want to be responsible for starting a wild fire in Wisconsin. In addition to the public safety danger, the threat of fire, obviously proposed to people, the property damage, the habitat damage that can happen. But also, if you're found responsible for starting a fire, you can get the bill,” Culhane said.

For more information on which areas are in danger, and how to get a burning permit, go to http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/forestfire/restrictions.asp

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