Cold winter puts pressure on Northwoods firewood supply Submitted: 03/18/2014
THREE LAKES - Firewood usually serves only as a backup heating source for many people in the Northwoods. Those people often rely on propane first. But with soaring propane prices this year, that pattern was flipped for many people. Heating homes with wood became so popular that several Northwoods firewood suppliers ran completely out of dry wood.

Merle Patnode has been buying logs from independent loggers for 15 years. He then processes, bundles, and sells firewood through his company, MMAP Ltd. in Three Lakes. This winter has put a major strain on firewood supply. "We've got customers this year from Antigo, which is a long way to haul firewood. Even Iron River, we've had a couple, and of course surrounding areas. It's awful," Patnode says. Patnode ran out of dry firewood about a month ago. Since then, he's been forced to sell green wood - wood that's not yet fully dry. If it's not used carefully, that kind of wood can lead to creosote buildup and chimney fires. But since the demand left him with no dry wood, he has little choice. Even with the demand, he's kept his prices the same to help people through the cold winter. "I haven't raised it, even though I'm paying more for my wood. It's tough for people to buy wood now. I don't think we have all of that money out there," he says. We found one family selling dry firewood out of their house in Oneida County. They harvest the wood from their own land. They've had to increase their prices because of the demand.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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