ARBOR VITAE - A fire at Pukall Lumber last Wednesday didn't slow the company down.
No one worked Thursday and Friday, but that was because of Independence Day, not because of the fire. Now, everything but the paneling shop is up and running.
"The fire started right here at our chipping operation, we chip scrap up and blow it into our silos," said vice president Rick Wilson. "There's some foreign object, we think, that got into our chipper that created a spark and started the fire."
Wilson can't remember the last time they had a fire like this.
"We had an employee who noticed some smoke coming out of the top of the building and when we got to the fire, it was already quite large," he said. "We did what we could with the fire extinguishers until the fire department came."
Arbor Vitae fought the fire along with five other departments. Firewalls helped, too.
"The building is really not a total loss," Wilson said. "This is one corner of a very large building. The firewalls did their job and we were able to limit this fire to this one section."
Wilson guesses the damage here will probably run about half a million dollars.
"This building is only paneling and flooring operation. It's a minor part of our business, so overall, we will rebuild it, but it won't have a significant impact on our operation."
Wilson says a fire in any other part of the building would have done millions of dollars' worth of damage. He's also grateful for a quick response.
"I want to thank all the local volunteer fire departments," he said. "They did a great job, they responded quickly and they were very professional."
The panel shop will take at least a few months to rebuild.
RHINELANDER - We expect trees on our property to suffer when it gets very dry, but for tree health, drought severity may not be as important as another factor. Researchers for the U.S. Forest Service have been studying the impacts of drought on trees across the Midwest, including the Northwoods. One ecologist at the Northern Research Station in Rhinelander found surprising results.
"It was the length of drought that was more important than determining the severity," explained Northern Research Station Ecologist Dr. Eric Gustafson. "Trees have the ability to survive droughts by drawing on their energy reserves, and when the drought is long, those energy reserves get depleted."
MINOCQUA - Too many times, Minocqua-area fishing guide Greg Bohn has heard the stories of tragedy.
A parent on Wisconsin waters jumps in to try to rescue their child, who is in the water without a life jacket. But the parent, also not wearing a personal floatation device (PFD), drowns, even if the child survives.
It happened in July on Shawano Lake in Shawano County, and on Minocqua Lake a few years ago.
"Accidents can happen in seconds, and there's total chaos and emergency," Bohn says while touring Minocqua Lake on his fishing boat.
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