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High winds create dangerous wildfire conditions, cause power outages throughout northern Wisconsin

DNR Wildfires 5.9.22.PNG
Wisconsin DNR
A map of wildfires in northern Wisconsin on Monday. Throughout the state there have been more than 45 wildfires that have burned more than 28 acres today.

Firefighters across northern Wisconsin have spent the day responding to multiple brushfires, including several in Vilas County.

Dry grass and brush coupled with the high wind has created dangerous fire conditions throughout the state.

“The north is right in that sweet spot. We had a lot of dry, warm conditions over the weekend. We’re not getting the rain that we thought we were going to get with some of these cells that have moved through due to a high-pressure system. Dry conditions, wind, any sort of spark can cause a wildfire,” said Catherine Koele, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildfire Prevention Specialist.

The strong winds Monday can spread any fires that do start more quickly.

It’s also been partially responsible for starting some of the fires today.

Koele says the wind is taking down powerlines or knocking trees into them which has started some fires.

There was one lightening started fire in western Wisconsin.

You can view active fires on the DNR's website.

As of 4:15 p.m., there were more than 8,600 Wisconsin Public Service customers without power.

The National Weather Service is reporting high winds in the region.

Manitowish Waters Airport recorded gusts up to 44 miles per hour this afternoon. Rhinelander Airport hit 45 miles per hour.

The DNR has moved fire suppression resources to Northern Wisconsin where the fire danger is higher.

“The south is under green up and their fire danger is not quite as high today. We’re pulling some of those resources to the north,” said Koele. “We also have access to two single engine airtankers out of Antigo as well as the Army National Guard Blackhawk Helicopter. Sounds like we’re going to be using them today at some point.”

Burning permits were suspended Monday. Koele urges people to avoid activities that could start fires.

The fire danger ranges from high to very high throughout Northern Wisconsin.

Koele says she doubts Monday night’s forecasted rain will be enough to make any drastic changes to the fire danger levels.

Severe storms are possible for our region. That could mean more damaging winds, large hail, and heavy rain.

The greatest risk of severe weather is between 8:00 p.m. and midnight.

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