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Wisconsin DNR warns of ‘very high’ wildfire risk

Wild Fire Danger
Published: May. 8, 2022 at 11:49 PM CDT
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SPOONER, WI. (KBJR 6) -- The Wisconsin DNR is warning of a “very high” risk of wildfires in about 50 counties across the northern part of the state, 98 percent of which are preventable.

The snow has finally melted and the sun is starting to warm up the region.

But, fire officials are warning that the next few weeks are also incredibly high-risk for wildfires.

“For three weeks out of the year, we’re no different than California except we’re flatter and have more roads,” said Kirby Dernovesk, a wildfire fighter.

Grasses have not fully greened up and the northern part of the state just lost snow cover, creating conditions that pose a very high risk.

Leaders with the Wisconsin DNR said on Saturday alone, there were 46 fires across the state, making it one of the most active days they’ve seen in a long time.

“98% of our fires in Wisconsin are caused by people. So the reality is, 98% of these fires can be prevented,” said Catherine Koele with the DNR.

Fire officials said even a small fire can get out of control quickly if the wind picks up in these conditions.

It’s important to understand the danger before you decide to conduct any burning.

“Obtain a permit. Follow the rules on that permit,” Koele said. “A lot of people will get a permit and then fail to read what the restrictions are, and those restrictions are really important, so people will burn safe.”

When permits are allowed, DNR leaders encourage people to burn in the evening, have tools around, and never leave the fire unattended.

They’re asking everyone to do their part, as the DNR and local volunteer firefighters continue working hard to keep the community safe.

“These folks are literally leaving their jobs, their employment, and going from doing what they do to make a living to having to protect structures with 30-foot flames coming at them,” said Dernovesk.

The number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin is debris burning.

For the latest information about fire danger and permits click here.

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