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Closer to Containing Northern Wisconsin WildfiresSubmitted: 05/15/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Closer to Containing Northern Wisconsin Wildfires
Photos By Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

DOUGLAS, BAYFIELD COUNTIES - Wildfires destroyed at least 17 homes in northern Wisconsin.

But it looks like the fires might burn out soon.

More than 9,000 acres burned in eastern Douglas and western Bayfield counties in the northwest corner of the state.

The Wisconsin DNR reported the fires about 95% under control Wednesday night.

At least 60 people were evacuated from the fire zone.

Some of the first people are expected to be allowed back to their properties Wednesday evening.

People living downwind of the fires could be see its effects, too.

Air quality problems and smoke could impact those to the south and east of the fire.

One of our viewers in Lublin, in Taylor County, told us he could smell smoke from his home.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - Many people love sightseeing on two wheels throughout the Northwoods.

Now, you can get a prize for doing it.

"Bike the Heart" encourages riders to explore the different communities along the Heart of Vilas County Trail.

The trail is more than 45 miles of paved path that connects Boulder Junction, Sayner, St. Germain and Manitowish Waters.

The goal of "Bike the Heart" is to stop at each Chamber of Commerce with a "pass card" to get a stamp.

You have until September to collect four stamps and send it in to one of the chambers to be entered for a prize worth more than $100.

"Bringing the bicyclists to this area is astronomical. We have inquiries from the entire Midwest and even the outlying states of California and New York," says executive director Penny Wiesmann of St. Germain Chamber of Commerce.

Mile markers and "fix-it" stations are the newest additions to the Heart of Vilas County Trail.

The stations have tools attached to the sides to help you make a quick fix on your bike.

"We're just really excited that people can come up and ride up the entire length of the trail, or if they want to take up some smaller portions they can do that to," says executive director Theresa Smith of Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce.



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RHINELANDER - Thousands of kids got a lot of joy out of a twisty slide at Pioneer Park in Rhinelander.  But after 20 years, that slide cracked, broke, and became unusable last fall.

Monday, work started to add some new fun to the park. Rhinelander Parks Department workers started tearing down the old slide. It's been blocked off since last fall and would cost up to $10,000 to fix the slide and structure itself.

Parks Director Jeremy Biolo reached out to a local service group to see if they could help.

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MERRILL - People who lost their homes in last week's tornado will get state help, but likely no federal dollars to rebuild.

Initial estimates from the Barron County Sheriff's Office put the damage from last week's tornado at $10 million.

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RHINELANDER - If you wait long enough, you could see Rhinelander city workers mowing your front lawn. But it's not free, and it's not a service they necessarily want to provide.

Streets Superintendent Tony Gilman has been named "Weed Commissioner" for the fourth year.  That means he'll be on the lookout and taking calls for lawns with grass 12 inches or longer.  Gilman says he gets dozens of calls from fed-up people each year.

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TOMAHAWK - After two years of planning, the opening ceremony of a new Northwoods nature trail took place Monday. The trail immortalizes an important figure in Tomahawk.

Allan Bell wrote his "Birch Bark Nature Notes" columns in the Tomahawk Leader for more than three decades.

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RHINELANDER - Stepping onto a boat and casting a line doesn't come easy for some people.

The Northwoods "Let's Go Fishing" pontoon helps veterans, seniors, the disabled get on the lake for a day of fun.

The Northwoods chapter needs volunteer captains and mates to keep the rides running.

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MERRILL - Drivers in Lincoln County may encounter a few delays on their routes to work this week.

The Department of Transportation scheduled maintenance on five bridges on US 51 and WIS 64.

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