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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

MILWAUKEE - A driver who entered Interstate 94 the wrong way is dead and five others are injured after a six-vehicle crash in Milwaukee County.

According to the county sheriff's department, 32-year-old Marcos Cortez, of Wauwatosa, entered the freeway at about 8 p.m. Friday travelling westbound in the eastbound lanes without headlights on when he crashed into another car.

Cortez died on the scene. The three people in the car he struck were not seriously injured.

Four other vehicles were involved in secondary crashes, with two people taken to hospitals for minor injuries.

The eastbound freeway was shut down for nearly 5 hours while deputies investigated.

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MEDFORD - Members of the Medford Curling Club celebrated their 100 year anniversary this weekend. The club began its first curling season in July of 1914 and has steadily built a following during the past century. Club members believe media exposure has brought more attention to curling locally and across the country.

"I think the Olympics have done a great boost for curling, clubs are popping up all over the United States now," said Centennial Committee Chairman Jeff Mueller. "You can meet people all over the country, you mention curling, they say they saw it on the Olympics. Unlike years ago when they thought it was just some boring shuffleboard on ice type of thing, people really get into it."

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MINOCQUA - A large crowd had the chance to try a wide variety of tasty chilli Saturday.

The Minocqua Brewing Company hosted their fourth annual Chilly Chili Challenge. People had the chance to try 10 different chili's.

Minocqua Brewing Company Manager Doug Etten says the warm weather might have played a roll in how many people came out Saturday.

"It's so nice out this weekend that we've got a lot of people in the area, but they'll be out doing some stuff," said Etten. "We understand that and they should be because that's why they come to the Northwoods."

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THREE LAKES - Many people get their tax forms at Northwoods libraries. But they might not get everything they need to file their taxes at the library this year.

The IRS won't be able to send local libraries every free tax form and instruction booklets because of budget cuts.

At the Demmer Memorial Library in Three Lakes, the free tax forms are usually a popular service. The library's director think many people will be let down. But the library will still offer some of the tax forms people will need.

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ATLANTA - Police who searched two airplanes in Atlanta found no bombs following online threats made against the aircraft.

FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said law enforcement officials finished their search Saturday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The threats targeted Southwest Airlines Flight 2492, which arrived from Milwaukee, and Delta Air Lines Flight 1156, which arrived from Portland, Oregon.

Both flights arrived safely.
NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said the threats were made through Twitter, an online social media network. The military dispatched two F-16 fighter jets to shadow the planes until they reached the airport.

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WAKEFIELD - Close to 3,000 people in Gogebic County experienced a widespread power outage Friday.

The Gogebic County Sheriff's Office aren't sure how it happened, but power is being restored.

They say the outage affected much of the county, but it was narrowed down to the city of Wakefield. About 50 percent of the city was without power.

Deputies say the city of Wakefield maintains its own power grid. They say Wakefield Electric Department and Xcel Energy worked all day Saturday to restore power.

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MEDFORD - 28 middle aged and elderly people will need to find housing after an apartment fire in Medford Saturday.

It happened a little before 1 p.m. The Medford Police Department says the fire happened in Riverview Village Apartments on the third floor.

Medford Police Chief Ken Coyer says a neighbor smelled and saw smoke.

The 28 people who lived there were displaced due to smoke, fire and water damage throughout the building. Red Cross helped them at Medford Area Senior High School to make arrangments for housing.

The chief says this was an accidental fire.

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