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Germann Road Fire

One of the largest wildfires to hit Wisconsin in over 33 years, the Germann Road Fire consumed 7,499 acres and destroyed 104 structures (23 of them residences) in the Towns of Gordon and Highland in Douglas County and the Town of Barnes in Bayfield County. An estimated 350 structures were saved due to fire control efforts.

The fire began around 2:45 p.m. on May 14, 2013, burning a swath nearly 10 miles long and a mile and a half wide before being declared 100% contained on May 15 at 9 p.m. The fire was started unintentionally from a logging crew harvesting timber on industrial timber lands.

Three fire towers reported smoke, and soon after the 911 call DNR fire crews arrived on scene. Dense pine, high winds and dry conditions resulted in rapid spread and intense torching. Several evacuations took place as DNR firefighters, local fire departments and numerous other federal and state cooperating agencies worked diligently to suppress the fire, containing it in less than 30 hours. Thanks to the rapid response, good communication and suppression efforts, no injuries or fatalities resulted and more than 77 structures were saved.

Homeowners impacted by the Germann Road Fire are urged to contact the Barnes Ranger Station at 715-795-2565 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).


Last updated on May 30, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.

  • Name: Germann Road Fire
  • Type: Wildfire
  • Start date: 2:45 p.m., May 14, 2013
  • Location: Barnes, WI (Douglas County)
  • Latitude: 46° 16' 17''
  • Longitude: 91° 40' 17''
  • Size: 7,442 acres
  • Percent contained: 100% (as of May 15, 2013 at 9 p.m.)
  • Structures saved: 77
  • Structures lost: 47

Incident conditions

  • Temperature: 82 F.
  • Wind speed: 12-21 m.p.h.
  • Wind direction: South
  • Humidity: 26%
  • Behavior: Running surface fire with intermittent crown fire
  • Fuels: Pine and mixed hardwoods

Evacuation instructions

None at this time.

Cause (if known)

Related to logging operations.


Responding fire departments and other units:

  • Amnicon Fire Department
  • Ashland Fire Department
  • Barnes Fire Department
  • Bass Lake Fire Department
  • Bennett Fire Department
  • Brule Fire Department
  • Chicog Fire Department
  • Dairyland Fire Department
  • Danbury Fire Department
  • Glidden Fire Department
  • Gordon Fire Department
  • Gordon-Wascott EMS
  • Grandview Fire Department
  • Hawthorne Fire Department
  • Highland Fire Department
  • Hayward (City of) Fire Department
  • Hayward (Town of) Fire Department
  • Iron River Fire Department
  • Jackson Fire Department
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Fire Department
  • Lake Nebagamon Fire Department
  • Lakeside Fire Department
  • Mason Fire Department
  • Mellen Fire Department
  • Namekagon Fire Department
  • Oakland Fire Department
  • Port Wing Fire Department
  • Poplar Fire Department
  • Parkland Fire Department
  • Round Lake Fire Department
  • Scott Fire Department
  • Shell Lake Fire Department
  • Solon Springs Fire Department
  • Spider Lake Fire Department
  • Spooner Fire Department
  • Stone Lake Fire Department
  • Summit Fire Department
  • Superior (Town of) Fire Department
  • Wascott Fire Department
  • Webb Lake Fire Department

Cooperating agencies:

  • American Red Cross
  • Ashland County Sheriff’s Department
  • Barron County Sheriff’s Department
  • Bayfield County Emergency Management
  • Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department
  • Bayfield Electric
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Burnett County Forestry
  • Citizen volunteers
  • Dahlberg Power and Light
  • Douglas County Emergency Management
  • Douglas County Forestry
  • Douglas County Highway Department
  • Douglas County Sheriff’s Department
  • East Central Energy
  • Gordon/Wascott EMS
  • Iron River Police Department
  • Lake Nebagamon Police Department
  • Mennonite crew
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Minnesota Department of natural Resources
  • Polk County Sheriff’s Department
  • Price County Sheriff’s Department
  • Province of Ontario
  • Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department
  • Select Industry
  • Siren Police Department
  • Solon Springs Police Department
  • Superior Department of Transportation
  • Unites States Forest Service
  • Washburn County Sheriff’s Department
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Wisconsin Emergency Management
  • Wisconsin State Patrol

Water supply wells

As homeowners return to their properties in the area of the Germann Road Fire, the DNR urges them to take a few minutes to inspect their water supply wells for damage. Heat from the fire could easily have melted the electrical conduit and pump wires contained within. If the fire were intense enough it may have melted or cracked the aluminum well cap and destroyed the rubber gasket in the well cap. And in the worst case situation the fire may have actually cracked the well casing pipe.

Damage to the integrity of the well could allow insects and other vermin to enter the well and cause bacteria contamination to the water as well. Specific items to inspect are:

  • electrical conduit;
  • well cap cracked, melted or knocked ajar;
  • rubber gasket in the well gasket melted;
  • well vent screens on well cap broken or melted; and
  • the condition and quality of the well casing.

Fixing a damaged well now before bug populations increase with the summer temperatures may help to save the well for future use on a property.  If a homeowner is uncertain on how to inspect their well, the department recommends hiring a licensed well driller or pump installer to complete the inspection. Review a list of well drillers and pump installers.

Even if a well doesn’t appear to be damaged and the water system operates, homeowners in the area of the fire may want to collect a sample and have it analyzed for bacteria. Review these lists of approved bacteria labs.

Solid waste disposal

Solid waste generated by the Germann Road Fire must be disposed of at a department-approved solid waste facility (onsite disposal is not allowed). The following documents can help:

Reports and supplemental documents