Wisconsin Governor Declares State of Emergency Over Wildfires

More than 300 wildfires have destroyed nearly 1,500 acres since the start of the year, and fire officials warn this could be a longer-than-average season.,

Last Updated April 6, 2021, 9:57 a.m. ETApril 6, 2021, 9:57 a.m. ET

More than 300 wildfires have destroyed nearly 1,500 acres since the start of the year, and fire officials warn this could be a longer-than-average season.

ImageFire crews fighting a wildfire in Menomonee Falls, Wis., on Friday.
Fire crews fighting a wildfire in Menomonee Falls, Wis., on Friday.Credit…Marc Sass/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin on Monday signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to elevated wildfire conditions, underscoring statewide efforts to control fires that have already burned nearly 1,500 acres this year.

The executive order allows state agencies to assist in wildfire prevention, response and recovery efforts.

It also allows support from the Wisconsin National Guard, according the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” Mr. Evers said in a news release.

In the past week, there have been 149 wildfires across Wisconsin, according to a map on the department’s website, and there have been at least 340 fires since the start of the year.

Over the weekend, the majority of Wisconsin was under a very high risk for fire danger, including counties along the Illinois state border and counties along Lake Michigan. Wildfire conditions across the state will persist as long as there is a mix of dry vegetation, unseasonably warm temperatures, low humidity and increasing winds, the department said.

Burning permits for debris piles, barrels and grass were suspended last week, and fire officials advised residents to avoid all outdoor burning, including campfires, and to properly extinguish cigarettes.

While wildfires can occur at anytime of the year, the department said, the majority of fires happen between March and May, making spring the most critical fire season in Wisconsin.

Because of how early the snow melted around the state, fire officials anticipate a longer-than-average fire season this year.

Wisconsin has seen its share of destructive wildfires in the past 20 years. In 2013, a logging crew unintentionally started a fire that destroyed nearly 7,500 acres, including 23 residences, the department said. In 2005, a fire burned 3,410 acres and destroyed at least 30 residences.

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