It’s early, and we need everyone’s help. The wild fire season is upon us.
Nearly all the snow has melted and Wisconsin’s recent warm, windy days have contributed to 70 wildfires burning 100acres in southern and central portions of the state. Department of Natural Resources officials urge residents and visitors to use extreme caution before engaging in outdoor activities with the potential for wildfire.
Due to the snow-free conditions, burning permits are now required in DNR Protection areas. Burning permits are free and are available from local Emergency Fire Wardens, over the phone1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876), or on the internet at dnr.wi.gov and enter the keyword “fire”.
With a permit in hand it is still necessary to call the toll-free 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or visit the DNR website and enter the keyword “fire” each day you intend to burn to learn of any restrictions on open burning in place for your location on that day. The webpage and the phone messages are updated daily at 11 a.m.
“We’ve been seeing a trend right now, people are getting their required annual burning permit, but failing to call or check online for the daily burn restrictions,” says Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. “Checking conditions daily is an important step in the DNR’s new automated burning permit system. Daytime burns when higher temperatures, lower humidity and stronger winds increase the risk of an escaped forest fire. Burning outside the permit requirements can result in a citation for illegal burning.”
Typically, the DNR allows burning after 6 pm when winds are calm and the humidity rises. However, this time of year, burning permits can also be suspended from day-to-day when the fire danger elevates due to a lack in precipitation or prolonged drought conditions.
“Especially in the spring, it’s extremely important that people check our toll-free hotline or visit our internet page after 11 am each day for the daily fire restrictions, before burning,” says Koele.
The DNR also recommends fire-safe alternatives, such as hauling debris to a designated disposal site or chipping instead of burning. Other ideas such as composting, recycling, or leaving the debris in the woods for wildlife habitat to enjoy eliminates the risk of wildfire altogether and it reduces exposure to unhealthy smoke.