Fire in NW Wisconsin 90 Percent Contained, DNR Says

Fire From Above: A view of the fire in Gordon, Wisconsin. (Contributed Photo)

For the City-Times

Wildfire crews from the Department of Natural Resources, working through the night and joined by more than one hundred municipal firefighters, have largely surrounded the Germann Road Fire which has scorched 8,700 acres of forestland in Douglas and Bayfield counties.

No injuries were reported Wednesday morning as firefighters entered their second day battling the largest forest fire to hit northern Wisconsin in 33 years.
“With wind out of the northwest, our concern has been the southern and eastern flanks of the fire,” said DNR incident commander Larry Gladowski. “We should have control shortly. It was 90 percent contained at 7 a.m. Now with hot, dry and windy conditions forecast for today, we are asking people to be extremely careful so no more destructive fires are started.”
Residents were evacuated from the Loon Lake, Sand Lake, Murray Lake, Potowatomi Estates, Rock Lake, Beauregard Lake, Catherine Lake, Ellison Lake and the Village of Barnes.
The evacuation center is located at Drummond High School. Red Cross and state emergency management officials are making arrangements for the evacuees. As of 7 a.m., there were 59 evacuees registered at Drummond High School and 22 people occupied cots overnight.
Gladowski was meeting with evacuees at 8 a.m. He said people forced out of their homes by the fire would not be able to check their properties today. Red Cross and state emergency management officials are making arrangements for the evacuees.
Once the main blaze is contained it will take wildfire crews several days to suppress hot spots within the containment area.
The DNR reported 47 structures have been lost, including 17 homes, 15 garages, nine out buildings and six unknown. Firefighters have saved 77 structures, including 42 houses.
The cause of the fire, currently listed as unknown, is under investigation.
Overnight 19 fire departments assisted the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service on the massive fire. There are 52 fire trucks active.
The firefight will be joined today by two 415 water bombers from Ontario and two Blackhawk helicopters from the Wisconsin National Guard equipped with buckets for water drops. DNR pilots in spotter planes have been in the air since the fire began.
Gladowski expressed gratitude to the dozens of area firefighters and law enforcement professionals who worked in tight coordination with state and federal firefighting crews. Assistance has also come from Ontario, Minnesota and Michigan, partners with Wisconsin in the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact along with Manitoba.
Law enforcement, in addition to DNR and State Patrol, includes the sheriff’s departments from Bayfield, Douglas, Ashland, Sawyer, Polk, Barron, Price and Washburn counties, and officers from Barnes, Solon Springs, Iron River and Lake Nebagam.
The last major forest fire in northern Wisconsin, called the Oak Lake Fire, occurred April 22, 1980 and consumed 11,418 acres of forest. The Cottonville Fire, in central Wisconsin, started May 5, 2005, burning 3,410 acres.