by Isiah Holmes, Wisconsin Examiner
State and national agencies are warning of fire dangers across Wisconsin, as warm spring weather arrives. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning on Wednesday. Dozens of counties are covered by the warning. Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared by Gov. Tony Evers.
“Protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive danger of wildfire is a top priority,” said Evers in a statement. “Although northern Wisconsin still has considerable snow cover, the danger is extreme across much of the state today.” Evers added that “this executive order will give the Department of Natural Resources the ability to have all available resources ready to be quickly dispatched at critical moments to keep fires small and minimize damage.”
The executive order will assist in the rapid deployment of Blackhawk helicopters piloted by the Army National Guard to areas most in need of aerial fire suppression. It’s expected that this heightened state of fire danger will last through the month of May. The executive order also directs all state agencies to assist as appropriate in wildfire prevention, response and recovery efforts.
On April 12th, fire crews from the DNR and local agencies responded to a roughly 100-acre wildfire in Juneau County. Evacuations are underway as several structures are in the fire’s path. Officials believe the fire began in the Township of Necedah, no injuries have been reported. The fire is burning oak, jack pine, and grace. Fire crews have formed containment lines, and Blackhawk helicopters are making assisting in fire suppression as well.
Counties covered by the Red Flag warning include Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green Lake, Green, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago and Wood counties, as well as the snow-free areas of Clark, Marathon and Shawano counties.
For counties with extreme fire danger, burning will be prohibited with all DNR-issued burning permits. Activities like campfires, grilling outdoors, smoking, operating chainsaws or off-road vehicles and igniting fires should also be approached with caution. Last week, the DNR responded to nearly 60 wildfires. Fire control officials will be on high alert statewide, and pre-positioned for rapid response with support from the National Guard.
This story was written by Isiah Holmes, a reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner, where this story first appeared.
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