DNR: Fire danger high in many areas of Wisconsin

By: Andrew Fefer and WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: Andrew Fefer and WEAU 13 News Staff Email

The Department of Natural Resources has a warning for those of you who burn garbage or anything else outside.

DNR burning permits, which are free, are now required for most kinds of outdoor burning because of what's left behind now that snow has melted throughout the state.

The DNR calls the dry grass, branches and twigs on the ground in western, central, and Northern Wisconsin good fuel for wildfires.

"This time of year when we get temperatures up around 70, sunny, dry, a couple things happen," said DNR Forestry Leader Steve Edge. "The fuels in the forest continue to dry out and become more volatile to fire, and also the nice weather brings people out."

April is the month that the DNR says comes with the most fires, year in and year out. That's why the agency has been raising the fire danger levels in every part of the state that it keeps track of.

"Our current fire conditions are rated at high," Edge said. "We've been slowly increasing our fire danger rating over the last week, and as long as we go without precipitation right now, and we continue with the low humidity days/afternoons, the fire danger will continue to increase."

Edge says people cause most fires, especially those of you who burn garbage and other debris.

"We really want to get the message out to people that this is the time of year, and the conditions are starting to increase to where we're concerned, and people need ot be careful in the outdoors, especially with any burning materials."

The DNR says you can be fined for burning without a permit in the areas that it regulates.

Individual fire departments set the rules for other places, like the City of Eau Claire. That department says it's regulations are basically in line with the DNR's right now. It charges $3 for a permit that's good only on the day you buy it. You can get those permits, weather permitting, at any of the city's fire stations.

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The Department of Natural Resources is warning those of you who burn garbage or wood outside that fire danger is high in areas across the state.

Now that snow is melted across the state, there is dry grass, twigs, and branches all over the ground in Western, Central, and Northern Wisconsin.

It's material that the agency says is a lot of fuel that can ignite and spread quickly.

The DNR calls debris burning the number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin.

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DNR News Release:

DATE: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SUBJECT: Fire danger is high in central, western, northern Wisconsin

The danger of wildfire is high right now throughout central, western and Northern Wisconsin. The snow is gone and the ground is covered with dry leaves, grasses, branches and twigs – an enormous amount of fuel that can ignite and cause fire to spread rapidly.

Burning permits are now required for all open burning with the exception of campfires or warming fires. Burning permits are free and can be obtained at any emergency fire warden location or DNR office. Debris burning is the number one cause of wildfire in Wisconsin. You can minimize the danger by following these guidelines:

• Before you burn, first acquire a burning permit, then you are required to call the burn permit hotline at 888-wisburn (888-947-2876) or visit the website dnr.wi.gov/forestry/fire to obtain the current daily burning restrictions.
• Burn under calm wind conditions only.
• Attend your fire at all times.
• Burn in small piles away from buildings, trees and long grass.
• Have hand tools and a source of water available. Be sure to safely dispose of any ashes from wood burners by completely drowning and storing in metal containers
• Make sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. Failure to completely extinguish any brush pile burning with your permit can cause a fire days or weeks later.

A short video and more information about fire danger is on the DNR web page at dnr.wi.gov.

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