Wisconsin wildfires burn 520 acres, destroy 15 buildings
In the past week, 161 wildfires burned 520 acres in DNR protection areas, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Eighty-eight homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance and 15 buildings were destroyed.
Debris burning was the most common cause, igniting 67 of the fires; other causes included equipment, power line, railroad, campfires, ash disposal and smoking.
The largest fire of the week burned 124 acres and threatened 13 buildings in Eau Claire County,. The cause was debris burning.
Fire danger ranged from low to extreme across the state, with red flag warnings in several counties. Douglas County's fire danger was very high Friday. As the vegetation dries out on the days we don’t receive rain, expect fire danger to increase, particularly in areas where standing dead grass and other dry vegetation remains.
As vegetation greens up, people can become complacent and conduct their burning projects during the day instead of following the time restrictions on burning permits. In DNR protection areas, if you do choose to conduct outdoor burning, a free annual burning permit is required to burn small piles of debris and to burn in a burn barrel.
Burning permits are frequently suspended this time of year when fire danger increases. You must check the day’s burning restrictions every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online at dnr.wi.gov, keyword ‘fire danger.'
Larger piles and daytime burning requires a special permit from a DNR ranger. Piling your debris in a campfire pit does not make it okay to burn during the day. If your property is outside a DNR protection area, check with local officials for burning restrictions.