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Be Fire Smart: Critical Fire Conditions Expected This Weekend

Wisconsin DNR news release Fire danger is high across the state, with critical conditions expected this weekend. Photo credit: Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that fire danger is high and moderate across the state, with critical fire conditions expected this weekend.

The forecast is expected to bring low humidity, windy conditions and warmer temperatures. Saturday brings the most concern, with temperatures expected to reach the upper 70s and abnormally dry conditions in the southern part of the state. Based on this forecast, the DNR will be likely restricting or canceling burning permits for Saturday in the counties with the most critical conditions. 

Warm temperatures, low humidity, gusty winds and dry vegetation make it easier for a fire to start and spread quickly. Weather conditions can change frequently and easily become dangerous. 

Anyone heading out for this weekend’s fishing opener should use caution with off-road vehicles or equipment that can create a spark and start a fire, including dragging boat trailer chains or starting fires for shore lunches.  

Areas with HIGH danger today include Adams, Barron, Bayfield, Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Florence, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Milwaukee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Portage, Price, Racine, Richland, Rock, Rusk, Sauk, Sawyer, Shawano, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washburn, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, and Wood counties.

There is MODERATE fire danger in Ashland, Brown, Door, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee and Vilas counties.

The DNR has responded to 502 wildfires burning 1,617 acres so far this season, plus many more suppressed by local fire departments and federal partners. 

DNR fire control officials are once again reminding the public that wildfire season continues until vegetation greens, regardless of recent precipitation. Unlike out west, the spring is the most dangerous time for wildfires in Wisconsin. After the snow melts and before plants, trees and grass turn green, fires can spread quickly. Although green-up is progressing in the southern part of the state, the recent lack of rain has elevated the risk of fires.

The best way to protect against a wildfire is to stop it before it starts. A fire could quickly start and spread in these conditions. To help us keep Wisconsinites safe, the DNR is asking the public to avoid all outdoor burning, including limiting the use of campfires and making sure to extinguish and dispose of cigarettes properly. Embers from campfires or burn piles can remain hot for days. Wind can expose smoldering embers hidden in the ashes, allowing them to escape and cause a wildfire. 

Be fire smart. Fires caused by careless burning become more frequent this time of year. Never leave a fire unattended, and most importantly, before leaving, drown fire remains with water, stir and repeat until cold.

Report fires early by calling 911 immediately. Check daily fire danger, wildfire reports and burning restrictions.