MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – Most of Wisconsin is at very high risk of wildfires this week, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The designation comes as snow has melted in the southern two-thirds of the state and warm, dry weather is expected for most of the week, and as a result, the DNR is encouraging people to avoid burning materials outdoors this week.
The DNR’s fire risk map shows everything south of a line that roughly follows Highway 29 in north-central Wisconsin from the Minnesota border to the greater Green Bay area is at very high risk of fire danger. Points roughly north of that line have lesser designations as snow pack has not yet melted in some of those areas.
According to the DNR, springtime is the most critical fire season in Wisconsin. That’s because leftover plant debris from the fall is dried out, while vegetation has not yet had a chance to flourish, creating hazardous conditions that could allow wildfires to spread quickly. Warmer temperatures in the spring, combined with low humidity and wind can fuel fires. Human activities, such as burning yard waste and clearing property, contribute to the majority of wildfires in the spring. Spring wildfires, from March through May, comprise the majority of all annual wildfires in Wisconsin over the past decade, according to the DNR.
65 wildfires in DNR management zones have burned 72 acres so far this year, with 34 of those fires happening last week alone. That’s lower than the 87 wildfires Wisconsin had as of April 10 one year ago. Last year, 922 wildfires burned 892 acres of land in Wisconsin, according to the DNR.
As a result of the fire danger, burning permits are suspended in 19 counties while the risk of wildfires is very high.
The DNR provides a number of resources to help families, property owners, and communities plan for wildfires, including action plans if a wildfire is near a populated area.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- Avoid outdoor burning until conditions improve. Burn permits for debris burning are currently suspended in numerous counties.
- Operate equipment (chainsaws, off-road vehicles, lawnmowers, etc.) early in the morning or late in the day to avoid sparks at peak burn hours.
- Secure dragging trailer chains.
- Report fires early, dial 911.