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NEWS STORIES

Forest Service employees ready for deploymentSubmitted: 06/13/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - Fires destroyed nearly four hundred homes near Colorado Springs.

Emergency workers there have evacuated thousands of people in its path.

It's one of four fires burning in Colorado right now.

Crews here in Wisconsin are gearing up to help out in at a moment's notice.

Emergency crews from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest haven't been deployed to Colorado just yet.

But it's almost certain that Forest Service employees will become firefighters somewhere before the summer is over.

"In my 30 years of being in the fire business, I cannot think of any year where the Forest Service was not involved in either fire or some other kind of disaster in the country," says Forest Service Fire Management Officer Jim Grant.

A group of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest workers could be called to duty in Colorado or somewhere else soon.

They'll be ready within the next couple of days.

"Our crews are on the board, will be by this weekend. We'll have a crew on the board, a 20-person crew, ready to respond to any national incident outside of Wisconsin as well as in Wisconsin," says Grant.

Forest Service employees most recently helped with the Hurricane Sandy disaster on the East Coast.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MADISON - A Republican lawmaker has reintroduced a bill that would outlaw using GPS to secretly track someone.

Under Rep. Adam Neylon's bill, anyone who secretly placing a GPS device on another person's vehicle would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines.

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MADISON - A team of students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is conducting research on foxes and coyotes in hopes of learning how the animals and humans can peacefully coexist.

Forest and wildlife associate professor David Drake and his students are humanely trapping the animals, running tests, then fitting them with tracking devices. The goal is to learn about traveling patterns, diseases the animals might have, and how they interact with other animals and humans.

Drake says foxes and coyotes are moving into areas where people are living. And if that continues, and the animals lose their fear of humans, they could become aggressive in extreme cases.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says residents should stay a safe distance from foxes or coyotes, and shouldn't feed them.

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NEW YORK - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.

The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.

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NORTHWOODS - The U.S. Forest Service will hire thousands of temporary workers this spring. Leaders at the Chequamegon Nicolet Forest Service want to hire more than 50 temporary employees to work during summer. They're looking for people with diverse backgrounds and plenty of experience.

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WAUSAU - Enrollment for health coverage will end soon. That's why healthcare providers participated in "Super Saturday".

Bridge Clinic in Wausau welcomed people to sign up for health insurance options Saturday.

The Open Enrollment deadline is February 15th. If you don't sign up before then, it could cost you $325 or more depending on your income.

"We recommend just make an informed choice. Don't just let it lapse and get the penalty, be surprised with a penalty later on. Come in, make an informed choice. There are health care options," said Bridge Community Health Clinic Executive Director Laura Scudiere.

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PINE RIVER - Firefighters in Pine River had a tough day Saturday. They battled a house fire Friday night.

Crews didn't finish cleaning up the scene until 3:30 Saturday morning. Then they got called to a second fire in the afternoon.

The first fire happened at 9:12 p.m. The Lincoln County Dispatch Center got a call about a possible structure fire on County Highway WW in the Town of Pine River. That's east of Merrill, but when the Pine River Department got there, the house was in flames.

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HUDSON - A standoff between police and a man in Hudson has ended with the man taken into custody.

Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen says a man with a "known history of violence" was arrested shortly before 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Police were initially called to the house at 3 a.m. Jensen says the man had trashed his ex-girlfriend's home and phone, but she was able to get to a friend's house and call police.

The woman told police there was a handgun in the house. Roughly eight nearby homes were evacuated as police and the SWAT team tried to get the man to come outside.

Jensen says no shots were fired, but authorities used tear gas and other chemicals during the standoff.

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