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Much of tinder-dry Wisconsin on fire alert

Lee Bergquist
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 13, 2013 fire in Douglas County.

The state Department of Natural Resources said 47 wildfires have burned in the past week and more fires are expected this weekend.

While rain has caused relatively soggy conditions in the Milwaukee area, much of the rest of the state is far drier.

This weekend, strong winds and dry conditions are expected to exacerbate the potential for fires, the DNR said. Burning permits have been canceled in most of the state outside of southeastern Wisconsin.

Most of the fires are caused by people burning brush, dead leaves and garbage, said Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist.

This year, Wisconsin has had more than 190 wildfires since snow cover has disappeared. That is more than double the number of fires compared with the same time last year, Koele said.

A fire near Pembine in Marinette County in 2016.

Wisconsin's fire season typically ends by Memorial Day, when conditions green up, she said.

Koele said one person has died trying to put out a fire this year in Douglas County in northwestern Wisconsin.

A concern this year is the rising number of drones and the use of these unmanned aircraft over fire areas. The DNR is asking drone owners not to fly the aircraft in fire areas because traditional aircraft are often used in fire suppression.

What the public can do:

Most fires are caused by the careless burning of debris, either on the ground or in burn barrels. The DNR advises people to get a burning permit or be aware of daily fire danger alerts issued by the agency.

Koele said burning permits are free and can be obtained online.

Wildfires in Wisconsin

Dry and windy conditions throughout most of the state have been ideal for wildfires – more than double the numbers the same time last year. Southeast Wisconsin, by contrast, has been seasonably wet.

Wildfires in WI