Portage Co. fire danger continues to be “very high”
For the City Times
Saturday’s drought-like conditions with winds ignited multiple wildfires in several counties by mid-afternoon involving residential evacuations, structural losses and suppression attacks from the sky by Wisconsin Air National Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters and air tankers in a coordinated response led by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources units and local fire departments.
Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire specialist, says burn permits were suspended for the weekend.
“We have tinder dry conditions which makes for an especially dangerous fire threat,” Koele said. “The DNR did take preventive measures by suspending burn permits on Friday in anticipation of the fire weather; and, advising the public to be especially careful when outdoors enjoying the weekend. Fire danger is based upon weather and fuels.”
The wildfires ranged from a few acres to an estimated 200 acres at the Legend Lake Complex in Menominee County. The Legend Lake fire still is burning in a cedar swamp area. No structures are threatened.
The fires involved a coordinated response team led by the Wisconsin DNR with local fire departments, Michigan DNR, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Forest Service.
About 15 homes were evacuated at the Oakdale Fire in Waushara County near Wautoma. An estimated 50 acres have burned. Two air tankers, equipped to drop retardant gel, and 2 Black Hawk helicopters which dropped water on the fire. By late afternoon, there were no known home or structure losses. Six local fire departments were assisting in the fire fight. The fire is 100 percent contained by late afternoon.
A three-acre fire was contained in Juneau County at Necedah. The air tankers also made drops on the fire. There were two structures lost in the fire but 6 homes and 3 sheds were saved. There also were fires in Richland and Taylor counties.
Wisconsin’s fire outbreak came in the midst of drought-like conditions, dry vegetation accompanied by strong winds. Very High fire threat conditions were set for most of the state Saturday. Similar fire weather conditions are in the forecast for Sunday.
Officials ask the public to exercise caution with any outdoor activity throughout the weekend as gusty winds continue a very high fire threat in advance of an approaching weather front expected to bring rains to parts of Wisconsin.