wildfires

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Wildfire smoke is causing the air quality in the Northwoods to drop.

Most of the smoke is moving in from Canadian wildfires.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the smoke will be moving from the northeast to southwest during the day.

As of 1:30 p.m. the DNR’s Air Quality Index had Forest County in the Unhealthy Air Quality category. Vilas County dropped to Moderate.

The Delta Lake Fire, Eastern Area IMT

Fire crews from Wisconsin are working on a couple fires burning in northern Minnesota.

Dry conditions have led to a couple of small wildfires near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

They started popping up after a lightning storm moved through the area.

Two of the fires are about 20 acres and are under control.

The Delta Lake fire is more than 60 acres, located just east of Ely.

Fire crews are having a harder time getting this one under control because it’s harder to get to.

Jared Kropidlowski

The skies over parts of Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula haven’t been quite as blue were used to lately.

Wildfire smoke trapped in the upper atmosphere has created a haze.

Trent Wickman is an air resource specialist for the National Forest Service. He’s based in Duluth and studies air quality in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

“The northern parts of these three states is generally some of the cleanest in the entire eastern United States,” said Wickman.

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Governor Tony Evers declared a State of Emergency in Wisconsin because of wildfire conditions in the state.

Right now, the entire state is at very high fire danger.

So far this year, there’s been more than 330 wildfires that have burned more than 1,500 acres. For comparison, all of last year there were 782 fires that burned about 1,600 acres.

The DNR has requested wildfire suppression support from the Wisconsin National Guard due to elevated fire danger across the state. 

Wisconsin DNR

Firefighters are still on alert after a busy weekend fighting brush fires.

Throughout the state, fire crews responded to nearly 100 wildland fires this weekend.

Spring is usually the most dangerous time in Wisconsin for wildland fires  and this spring has been busier than most.

Wisconsin DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele said fire activity this year has been three times greater than in past years.

U.S. Forest Service

Imagine trudging up a mountain carrying heavy gear or trying to navigate a bulldozer on a steep mountain side through the trees.

Now picture doing those things with a wildfire burning right next you.

“For a lot of us it’s just a normal day job,” said Jeremy Erickson. Erickson is the Assistant Fire Management Officer at Blackwell Job Corps.

He’s also one of the 10 wildland firefighters that make up the new Badger State Wildland Fire Module.

Almeda Fire

The west coast is experiencing some of the most catastrophic wildfires in history.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. At least 35 people have died.

American Red Cross Communications Officer for Wisconsin Justin Kern said he’s never seen destruction quite like this.

“This is my first wildfire. It’s extremely surreal,” said Kern. “[It’s] really eye opening how powerful and catastrophic these things can be and how quickly they can do a lot of damage and destroy a lot of people’s lives.”

National Park Service

  

Winds have picked up and air quality has improved a bit the past couple of days, but large fires in Ontario have created hazy skies in the region and on occasion, some breathing concerns.

Ontario is currently battling 20 forest fires, which are posing a risk to an estimated 14 communities across the region.

Katie Praedel is Air Monitoring Section Chief for the DNR. She says smoke from the Canadian fires had drifted south and east into the Upper Midwest. We spoke with her earlier this week about the situation...

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One of the peak fire danger times has passed, but the warm and dry weather the past few days means the chance of wildfire has risen a bit.

Catherine Koele is a DNR wildfire prevention specialist based in Woodruff. After the snow leaves and before the forests green up is a high fire danger time. The green up has happened but now other concerns arise...

NPS Photo / Mike Lewelling

The days after the snow leaves and the time before the forests green up is one of the most dangerous times for wildfires.

DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele in Woodruff..

"...It's nice to see this white stuff disappearing and what that means for the rest of us in the Division of Forestry is it's fire season. It started in the south and has been progressing to the north..."

Last year's leaves and grass form a combustible mix on the forest floor says Koele. She says the public can help prevent wildfires...

Suzanne Flory

Firefighters in Colorado might get some relief as rain is expected in the Centennial State to help slow a series of wildfires.

Recently, an interagency crew of firefighters from this region arrived to help out with fire suppression.

Forest Service employee Suzanne Flory of Rhinelander has been working with the Incident Management Team as a liason with various agencies and individuals affected by the fires....

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Every county except one in the Northwoods is considered by the DNR to have a high potential for wildfires.

Vilas county is said to have a moderate danger. Fire prevention experts say the time just after the snow leaves until the forests and fields green up is a prime time for wildfires to break out. The weather has turned warmer and windy this week, also raising the bar on conditions needed for wildfire.

DNR wildfire prevention specialist Catherine Koele in Woodruff says fire season is here...

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Suzanne Flory works for the U.S. Forest Service in Rhinelander, but has answered the call to be a Public Information Officer at fires in Oregon. The western states have seen hot, dry conditions and wildfires in Montana, Washington and other  states.

Flory is in the Willamette National Forest between Bend and Eugene. Flory has worked many other fires over the years, but this time firefighters also have to deal with people from all over the world coming to Oregon to experience the total eclipse next Monday.

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Fireworks cause a substantial number of fires and a DNR specialist adds to the voices to let the professionals do the fireworks this holiday weekend.

DNR wildfire prevention specialist Catherine Koele, says fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests. She says even though this year has had moisture and the fire danger is lower than most years, the majority of fires during the year are caused by legal fireworks...

Suzanne Flory

Firefighters from Wisconsin have joined the battle against wildfires in northern California. One  detail is  near Willow Creek, California involves Suzanne Flory  from the U.S. Forest Service office based in Rhinelander.

Flory is a veteran Public Information Officer at these kinds of events and says this fire was caused by extremely dry conditions and lots of lightning last Thursday...

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