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

More Northwoods crews head West as national fire problem grows
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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CRANDON - A Crandon parent group wants school board members removed in a recall election. That process started Wednesday.

Last Thursday, the board suspended superintendent Dr. Doug Kryder while he's under investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

The group, Citizens United for Education, supported that move, but its concerns extend beyond Kryder. It says the board is unwilling to listen to its concerns.

Community member Jeff Albrecht plans to run in the recall election. Last Monday, he spoke before Kryder, the board, and about 200 people at a school board meeting.

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WOODRUFF - The state will no longer use county-by-county rules to attempt to slow the spread of deadly emerald ash borer (EAB).

Next Friday, all of Wisconsin will be under an EAB quarantine. That means ash wood can now move freely around the state.

In the current system, individual counties are quarantined only if the tree pest was found there. The state restricted the movement of ash wood between infected counties and those free from EAB, trying to keep more areas "clean."

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CRANDON - A jury found a Crandon woman guilty Wednesday of trying to sneak narcotics into the Forest County Jail. 

Patricia Kirker was found guilty on all five felonies. 

The jury made its decision in less than an hour.

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ASHLAND COUNTY - The Ashland County Board has rejected a $9.5 million wrongful death claim from the family of a 14-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy.

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EAGLE RIVER - You typically find cotton or denim running through her sewing machine, but Chris Gaffron has been sewing a lot of plastic lately.

"It's just straight stitching, so anyone can do it," Gaffron said.

The "StitchIt" custom embroidery store owner worked on sewing old plastic feed bags from a friend's horse barn, which don't biodegrade.  Gaffron and her friend talked about ways to make better use of the trash and came up with an idea to help the homeless.

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EAGLE RIVER - Now that spring has sprung, many of us will be looking forward to warmer temperatures.

But these cool temperatures are keeping sap harvesters in business.

For the last 23 years, Yukon Jack has made his own maple syrup from trees in his own yard in Eagle River.

"Normally, I make 30 to 40 gallons," said Jack.

This year, things are looking good for Jack and his syrup.

"This is going to be a good year," said Jack.

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CRANDON - An inmate in the Forest County Jail committed suicide Wednesday morning. 

According to a press release from the Forest County Sheriff's Office, jail staff found the man shortly after 6:30 a.m.

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