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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

ST. GERMAIN - The last day of Pig in the Pines wrapped up Saturday. People were able to watch the rib eating contest in the afternoon.

Newswatch 12 got to help judge ribs from this year's four rib vendors. One of the big events happened on the main stage Saturday evening.

"We have entertainment all day long," said St. Germain Chamber President Bruce Weber. "We have the Wise Guys on our main stage. We have Laura Ernst on the aerial platform here. She also does juggling. On our major stage, we have One Ping Only, and we also have Molly Hatchet, our lead act tonight."

The Pig in the Pines volunteers had another big announcement to make. The event will be sticking around next year with some changes.

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WISCONSIN - Anyone who loves hunting and fishing will need to apply for a license. The deadline for some hunting and fishing licenses is August 1st at 11:59pm.

Hunters, trappers and spearers can go on the DNR website to apply.

"This is the time of year where not a lot of people are thinking about hunting, but that August 1st date is that date for applying for a bobcat, fisher or otter tag, sharp tag grouse, or sturgeon spearing or fall turkey," said DNR Warden Supervisor David Walz.

People may not be thinking about hunting during the summer. DNR workers say the process is very easy for people to apply.

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EAGLE RIVER - Trees for Tomorrow held their Forest Fest in Eagle River Saturday. The event hosts many people and companies that make a living from trees.

The UW Stevens Point Timbersports team came out to Forest Fest to show off their skills.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Police have arrested a Wisconsin Rapids man after he allegedly fired his gun at street lights, saying he was protecting the universe from aliens.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - The boat looks like something from a science fiction movie as it creeps across Northwoods lakes at night.

Its long arms jut into the water, sending electrical pulses into the lake.

Under a nearly-full moon on a warm July night, it motors across Sparkling Lake in Vilas County.

"We can actually sneak up on them in the evenings, when it's dark out," says Dr. Noah Lottig, who's driving the boat. "They're up there, they don't see us coming, and we can sneak up on them."

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WISCONSIN - The DNR set new rules for tagging deer hit by a car. The new rules remove local law enforcement from the process.

You no longer have to call police to get a tag issued for a deer carcass, if you want to take it home after an accident.

"The new policy for the DNR shows that you just have to dial a number in order to get a tag issued for a deer on the side of the road instead of having to call a dispatcher to get a deputy on scene," said Oneida County Sheriff's Department Dispatch Brandi Gray.

This has to be done before taking the deer from the scene. The person who hit the deer has the right to take it, but if they don't want the deer, anyone can have it.

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RHINELANDER - A 16-year-old male crashed into an electric pole just east of Rhinelander this morning.

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