DNR warns of fire danger

WAUPACA – The DNR is on high alert for wildfires. It says conditions are ideal for a fire to get out of hand quickly.

The danger is low to moderate in the northern part of the state, but high to very high in the southern half.

DNR firefighters in Waupaca spent Wednesday morning prepping their equipment for a busy few days.

“We’re kind of at the mercy of mother nature for a lot of this,” said Lucas Schmidt, DNR forestry supervisor.

The DNR expects the fire danger for many parts of our area to be high through the weekend.

“We’re coming right out of winter so everything is dead,” said Schmidt.

That includes the dry, grassy field in Hartman Creek State Park in Waupaca where Schmidt and 4 other DNR firefighters are stationed.

“Starting up that brush pile today is probably not a smart idea, with the high winds it has the potential to get away and it sounds like there have been a few fires already today in surrounding counties,” aid Mackenzie Siglinsky, DNR forester/ranger.

While it has only been a couple of days since much of the snow in our area melted, many people might think it’s is too wet for wildfires to start, but Schmidt says the danger is actually up here.

“The soil is very wet but the grass on top of them is very dry, it’s cured all winter long and there is no moisture in them whatsoever. There is low relative humidity and with the sun beating on them, they are just that much more receptive to burning,” said Schmidt.

It was almost a year ago when a wildfire burned more than 8,000 acres in Douglas and Bayfield counties. Schmidt says the morning of that fire the area received an inch of snow. He says it’s a warning not to take the weather conditions for granted.

“It just shows you how quickly that once the sun is out with the low RH’s that that moisture can evaporate from fields and that landscape can be receptive to fire,” said Schmidt.

Conditions that aren’t expected to change anytime soon.

Burn permits in Waupaca, Waushara and Green Lake counties were canceled Wednesday.

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