Environment
5:29 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Northwest Wisconsin Ripe For Wildfire

Area filled with dry tinder, some from 2011 windstorm. Charred landscape will stun visitors, foster new growth.
Area filled with dry tinder, some from 2011 windstorm. Charred landscape will stun visitors, foster new growth.
Credit DNR

The big wildfire in northwest Wisconsin is contained. However, it has scorched 9,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes and buildings.

The DNR calls it, Wisconsin's largest wildfire in more than 30 years.

The agency fears more blazes could ignite – even though snow covered the ground only two weeks ago.

DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele says spring - and typically April, is Wisconsin's high-risk period. The dead, dried underbrush serves as perfect tinder once the the snow melts. Lately, conditions across much of Wisconsin have changed rapidly, with dry, warm, windy weather blowing into the state. Yet plants in the north have not yet "greened up", which diminishes the fire risk.

In addition, Koele says fallen trees still laid scattered across the region from a wind storm in 2011, and the area is largely dry pine plantation, used for logging, all adding elements that contributed to the large magnitude fire.

The DNR will escort about 60 evacuated residents back to their homes to retrieve items - when the area is safe.

There is a hotline for people to call to learn the condition of their property:  715-376-4185.