- The long dry spell statewide is keeping local forest rangers on their toes. Forest Rangers have been chasing fires all over the Northwoods the past few days.
We found out how they keep up when the weather is windy, and the kindling is dry.
One way the DNR is coping with weather that puts the land at risk is by suspending all burn permits until further notice. They've also issued a red flag fire danger warning, nearly statewide.
"When we meet certain weather parameters, such as very high winds, a certain temperature and very low relative humidity. A red flag is issued so that folks are aware of the extreme or very high fire danger," says John Gillen, a Forest Ranger, with the DNR.
DNR officials say the fire danger is likely to get worse before it gets better, with no substantial rain forecast in the near future. Thats why the DNR's asking people to take precautions beyond the burn permit suspension.
"If they can refrain from any burning it definitely can reduce the likelihood of a forest fire," says Gillen.
But in an area with vast expanses of forest and farmland, keeping an eye on it all is a full time job.
"This time of the year we staff our fire towers with folks, and those folks are keeping an eye out for any smoke out there at all. We also have airplanes that are owned by the state, and they can do detection as well for us," says Gillen.
The DNR has a few tools at its disposal to help forest rangers get to wildfires that may be too far from roads or trails. One of those tools is a giant bulldozer.
"We have special equipment on this for firefighting. The biggest tool is a double furrow plow. And it will lay open about a six foot wide mineral soil break, and take the fuel away from the fire," says Gillen.
And though they're well equipped to handle fires, the DNR is asking residents to be especially careful with potential ignition sources.
"That can be from dumping hot ash, to having a barbecue grill, to even as simple as a chain on their vehicle dragging on the road that causes sparks," says Gillen.
Wildfires have already burned 907 acres so far this year, compared to just 121 acres at this time last year. Be sure to check out the DNR's website if you have any question about what the current fire danger level is. You can find that link below.
DNR Fire Danger Page
Written By: Lyndsey Stemm