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Wildfire danger high, burning permits suspended


UNDATED (WSAU) -- The weather is getting nice, but that also means the risk of fires is higher. Department of Natural Resources Wildland Fire Specialist Catherine Koele says there is always a brief period of time every spring that is more dangerous.  “We go from feet of snow to fire season, but that’s pretty typical no matter what kind of precipitation we have, it’s always going to be here, that window just after the snow cover melts and just before green-up, so as far as tradition goes, it’s right on point.”

The warm weather prompts people to get out and clean up their properties, but it can be dangerous and costly.  “Debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin. Typically, the annual cleanup around homes and property occurs in the spring. A lot of folks are outdoors burning their materials, so really, the biggest thing right now is to check the restrictions before you burn, and always have proper permits.”

Koele says you should check before burning, as many areas of the state have suspended permits. “We have suspended DNR burning permits for the leaves, brush, pine needles, and those smaller prescribed burns, so under the DNR annual permit, the southern portion of the state has been suspended for today given the weather conditions that we’re foreseeing.”

The southern portion of the state is not the only dangerously dry zone.  Koele says central Wisconsin from Marathon County south, and west into Wood, Clark, and Jackson Counties are dangerously dry right now.

Last year’s massive wildfire near Germann Road near Gordon, Wisconsin ignited during this short time between snowmelt and green-up. That blaze burned about 75-hundred acres.  “That particular fire occurred in a two-day window when it was right for a wildfire. It was the wrong place at the wrong time, and under conditions that really, again, sparked a pretty massive wildfire that will go down in history.”