Saturday was the most active wildfire day this year for Wisconsin, says DNR

With 35 fires burning approximately 300 acres, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says Saturday has been the single most active wildfire day this season. The public is asked to stay vigilant and avoid all outdoor burning this weekend due to elevated fire danger across the state.

Several fires had potential for large growth in the northwest portion of the state. The DNR moved resources, including an incident management team, around the state to respond to these wildfires.

In Washburn County, the Smith Bridge Fire is active as of 7 pm Saturday. The DNR responded to a wildfire with significant growth potential near the Town of Minong at approximately 3:15 pm. Now contained, the fire burned an estimated 200 acres and is not advancing as progression has slowed.

The Smith Bridge Fire is located west of Highway 53. It is south of East Flowage Road, east of Smith Bridge Road, and near Gilmore Lake. One structure was reported lost, and several more were threatened. Evacuations occurred with an Evacuation Center established at the Northwood School, north of Minong on Hwy 53.

The Smith Bridge Fire burned in the crowns of the trees and in slash on the ground, moving in a northeasterly direction. Several spot fires occurred but were subsequently suppressed. The DNR had over 10 engines, eight tractor plows, one heavy dozer, and two patrol planes working the fire as well as two Minnesota fire bosses, which are aircraft with water scooping capability.

In Douglas County, the Apple Fire started just south of Apple Lake (west of Hwy 53, south of Lost Lake Road, east of South Apple Lake Road) and burned in pine plantation. The DNR responded to this wildfire with large growth potential at approximately 3 pm in the Town of Wascott.

The Apple Fire moved in a northeasterly direction and threatened several structures. The fire is now contained at approximately 20 acres.

The DNR will remain on-scene at both the Apple Fire and the Smith Bridge Fire and continue mop-up operations into the evening. Both fires remain under investigation.

An Evacuation Center has been established at Northwood School, near Minong (WDIO).

With windy, dry weather forecasted for Sunday, fire danger is expected to be Very High. Burn permits will be suspended in several counties. With these conditions, embers from any fire, especially burn piles and campfires, can easily get out of control and cause a wildfire if not properly extinguished. The DNR is asking the public to please avoid all burning until conditions improve.

RELATED: Fire weather risk high for Sunday; rain returns Monday

Burn permit restrictions and fire danger vary by county, but the DNR will suspend annual burn permits in these critical areas where the DNR has burn restriction authority.

The Wisconsin DNR would like to remind everyone of the following fire safety tips:

  • Avoid outdoor burning until conditions improve.
  • Operate equipment (chainsaws, off-road vehicles, lawnmowers, etc.) early in the morning or late in the day to avoid sparks at peak burn hours.
  • Secure dragging trailer chains.
  • Report fires early and call 911.

Current fire danger, wildfire reports, and burning restrictions can be found on the WisBurn website for Wisconsin and at this link for Minnesota.