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Wisconsin DNR Urges Caution Due to Elevated Wildfire Risk This Weekend


The Wisconsin DNR is asking people to avoid burning this weekend.

Right now, the entire state is at 'Very High' risk for wildfires starting.

An early snow melt and low humidity means it doesn’t take much more than a spark in some dry grass or leaves to start a fire.

The fire season is starting earlier than usual in the state.  So far this year, there’s been more than 200 fires that have burned 480 acres.

“We’re well above our 10 year averages for both number of fires and acres burned. We’re early. We’ll see how the green up progresses here and if we get these rain events or if we continue with dry conditions. That’s really what’s going to spell that going forward for the rest of the spring,” said DNR Fire Suppression Specialist Eric Martin.

Credit Wisconsin DNR
All Wisconsin counties are at 'Very High' fire danger Friday.

In response to the increased fire risk, the DNR has all of its staff on duty Friday.  

Resources are also spread across the state so that they can respond quickly to fires.

“We’re able to handle several fires at the same time that occur in the same vicinity of each other. Within that, we do have the ability to move our staff around the state. We’re very fluid and reactive that way as we need to,” said Martin.

If increased fire danger continues, the state is prepared to pull in more resources- including air support.

Burn permits in 43 counties are suspended for Friday.

Most fires are started by debris burning in Wisconsin.

The burning ban doesn’t apply to warming or cooking fires, but the DNR urges people to use caution if they are going to have fires.

“As best practices, we would recommend keeping a fire small. If you have a contained like one of those little fire pits with the screen on top. Anything to deter some of those sparks from escaping. Make sure that area around the fire is clear of any flammable material,” said DNR Fire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele. “Burn in the evening. Evening hours, the humidity comes up, dew points, winds come down. Conditions are typically more favorable in the evening if you chose to burn.”

The fire danger and burning restrictions are updated every day.

The DNR expects elevated risks all weekend and is asking people to be extra cautious.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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