NEWS STORIES

More Northwoods crews head West as national fire problem growsSubmitted: 08/16/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


RHINELANDER - Wildfires out west grew by nearly 50 percent in the past week. The state of Wisconsin has sent more than 300 crew members to help this month alone.

We showed you a crew leaving Woodruff last week for California. Another crew left Woodruff this morning. The 20 person team will go to Montana to fight a fire that started two days ago.

The wildfire situation nationwide is classified on a scale of one to five. Right now the country is at a four.

But that will likely bump up to the highest rating, a five, this weekend. That means we've used 80% of our national resources to fight fires across the country.

"Eighty percent of resources is made up of various equipment from bulldozers to helicopters to personnel to engines," says Jim Grant, from the U.S. Forest Service.

States won't send out all the resources they have. Each state holds back the minimum resources it would need for its own fire threat level.

When the country reaches level five, the military might have to help.

"The activation of the military comes from the president ultimately. When they're activated, it could be any branch of the military, but typically we see the United States Army, and even the Marines a lot of times, involved in this. Before they're put on the fire lines they're given training courses. They're given the basic training courses they need to continue to be safe out there before we put them on the lines," says Grant.

Right now there are $15,000 firefighters on the ground in 14 states. They're battling 40 large fires. To even be considered a large fire, thousands of acres have to be burning.

The fire season could last through October.



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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/05/2015

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We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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"The prominent one, the OTB, that this male juvenile claimed to be, that one was a known gang group here in the Wausau area," said Wausau Police Officer Houa Lee. "This other gang involving white, Hispanic, or black males, that was probably a hybrid gang that just formed."

Some gangs in Wausau have been around for the past fifteen years. Last week, a middle school boy died when a 15 year old stabbed him twice in the back. Police think the stabbing is gang related.

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VILAS COUNTY - Visitors to one Northwoods courthouse may notice some changes in security.

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MINOCQUA - Leaders at Minocqua Winter Park often hear from locals that they don't get the chance to visit the park. Staff members want to change that.

"We get people popping in to the chalet daily that say they've lived in the area for many, many years but haven't had a chance to come explore. We want to get rid of any excuse they have to come and explore Minocqua Winter Park," said Minocqua Winter Park Executive Director Tim Collins.

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MERRILL - More private schools in Northcentral Wisconsin could take part in the statewide voucher program.

Three schools in Lincoln and Marathon counties that aren't already a part of the program are applying this year.

Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill is one of those schools.

The school applied last year as well.

"Having gone through it last year I know what we're up against," says Trinity Lutheran School principal Kathy Yahr.

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BAYFIELD - Wisconsin's winter wonder re-opened today after a temporary closure.

The National Park Service closed the caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Tuesday evening due to high winds.

Concerns were that wind and blowing snow could make the ice leading out to the caves unsafe.

Around 12,000 people have visited the ice caves along the south shore of Lake Superior in Northwestern Wisconsin since they opened last weekend.

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NORTHWOODS - Some people will need to get their shanties off the lakes this weekend. DNR wardens say the ice conditions are much better than last year. That will make it easier to get the shanties off the ice and Wardens say they'll be strict about the deadline this year.

"We've had these cold temperatures, extremely cold temperatures at night, and that's helped to freeze up some of the slush that was on top of the ice," says Conservation Warden Supervisor David Walz. "We saw some extreme conditions last year where people were struggling to get their shacks off even come April."

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