DNR encourages public to ‘Be Fire Smart’ during wildfire season
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – While spring is always much-welcomed after Wisconsin’s long winters, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds residents that seasonal warm and dry conditions can result in increased wildfire activity.
“Weather is the single most important factor influencing how fires start and spread,” said Andy Wilcox, DNR Forest Ranger. “Temperature, wind, humidity and precipitation are the key weather components that determine the daily fire danger.”
Debris burning is the number one cause of Wisconsin’s wildfires, and fires caused by careless burning become more frequent this time of year. This year’s fire season is following a winter with below-normal snow depths. Fire control officials are focusing on the potential for statewide fire activity as the snow is rapidly melting at the same time.
Wildfires can happen just about any time of the year, but historically, 60% of all annual wildfires in Wisconsin occur in March, April and May alone.
The ice storm in March left a lot of additional debris on the ground in Sawyer, Washburn and Bayfield Counties. White pine and other conifers are especially susceptible to ice damage. Other areas with winter storm damage include Price, Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Florence, Marinette, Langlade, Oconto and Menominee Counties.
“People are eager to get outside to clean-up their properties by raking leaf litter, brush and needles so it looks good and is ready for new growth,” said Jim Kujala, DNR Forest Ranger. “I’ve seen a lot of people who were impacted and have a lot of yard cleanup to do this spring, myself included. Consider composting yard waste or hauling it to an approved disposal site. If you do plan to burn, make sure to obtain your annual permit and follow the daily restrictions. Make a plan to burn safely and make sure to completely extinguish your pile prior to leaving it unattended.”
As soon as the snow cover is gone, the DNR requires burning permits in DNR Protection Areas, including all of Sawyer, Washburn and Bayfield Counties outside of municipal limits, to conduct legal and responsible burning outdoors. Permit holders are allowed to burn vegetation, such as leaves, brush and needles, in a safe manner with minimal wildfire risk.
DNR burning permits are free and can be obtained online and instantly emailed or issued over the phone and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service within three to five business days. Get your annual DNR burning permit by completing the online application (www.dnr.wi.gov/burnpermits/) or by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876).
Once an individual has a burning permit, remember to check the fire restrictions (www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.asp) in the appropriate county after 11 a.m. each day before burning, including the legal burning hours, size limitations or if burning is suspended for the day. Small campfires for warming or cooking do not require a burning permit.
The DNR issued nearly 48,000 burning permits electronically in 2021. More and more customers are heading online to obtain their written burning permit. It’s quick and easy.
Because the DNR does not regulate all areas across the state, it’s essential to check with local municipal or fire department officials for any ordinances or other burning restrictions.
View detailed information about real-time and historic wildfires and prescribed fires using the DNR’s fire dashboard (www.dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/forestfire/fireManagementDashboards).