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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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/27/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

For months people around Squash Lake near Rhinelander have debated who should pay what to have DNR divers clear Eurasian Water Milfoil. This morning, the Crescent Town Board passed a resolution to approve forming a Squash Lake District. But some people who live near the lake aren't sure they want a district. Tonight you'll hear from people on both sides of the issue.

An anonymous woman donated $10,000 to go towards a new dog park in Rhinelander. We talked to a dog park advocate to find out what the donation means for the project.

And the Antigo Red Robins put up 56 points in winning their playoff opener against Fox Valley Lutheran last Friday. But the road only gets more difficult from here. We'll take you to the Robins' practice tonight as they get ready for tomorrow's Level 2 game.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WOOD COUNTY - We now know the names of the people involved in a Wood County Crash that killed two people Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed head-on along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:30.

71-year-old Barbara Baldwin of New Lisbon was driving one of the cars, and died in the crash.

Her passenger, 74 year old Louise Hemenway of New Lisbon, also died.

Another passenger in the car, 72-year-old Dona Sharp, was hurt....as was the driver of the second car, 30-year-old Greg Kopelke of Wisconsin Rapids.

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TOMAH - The Tomah VA Medical Center will end a lease agreement for a shelter for homeless veterans.

The Veterans Assistance Foundation has operated the shelter for nearly 20 years.

Tomah VA spokesman Matthew Gowan says there have been more than 30 incidents involving shelter residents recently.

They include a suicide attempt, a drug overdose and criminal violations.

The center has given the foundation notice that it will end the lease in January.

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BISMARCK, ND - Authorities have begun arresting some Dakota Access pipeline protesters at a camp the demonstrators set up on private land in the path of pipeline construction.

An Associated Press reporter says law enforcement officers formed a horseshoe-like loop around the camp in North Dakota.

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MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man sparked a weekend of violent unrest in the city has been ordered to stand trial on unrelated sex assault charges.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown appeared in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in handcuffs Wednesday as he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The 24-year-old man is facing five charges that accuse him of sexually assaulting two men and soliciting sex from two others. He's jailed on $100,000 bond.

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MERRILL - A former Merrill choir teacher will be sentenced today for sexual assault.

Last month, 26 year old Chase Tonar plead no contest to sexual assault of a student by school staff in Lincoln County Court.

Tonar is accused of having sex with a student both while he was a teacher at Merrill High School and after he resigned last May.

Police arrested Tonar in July.

The Lincoln County District Attorney says he will ask for jail time, as well as sex offender reporting and counseling.

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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