High fire danger across Wisconsin; DNR urges extra caution this Easter weekend

NOW: High fire danger across Wisconsin; DNR urges extra caution this Easter weekend

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning the entire state is under very high fire danger heading into the Easter weekend. This holiday weekend they’re urging people to not burn any debris.

“The number one cause of fires in Wisconsin is related to debris burning," Catherine Cooley said. She is the DNR's wildlife prevention specialist.

“Folks who are outside on this beautiful weekend cleaning up around their yards, raking and then choosing to burn those materials, has a high probability of causing a fire.”

The department has suspended all DNR burning permits in 43 counties as of Friday, April 2. The DNR asks to keep Wisconsinites safe, avoid all outdoor burning, including limiting the use of campfires and making sure to extinguish and dispose of cigarettes properly. Outdoor enthusiasts should also use caution with off-road vehicles or equipment that can create a spark and start a fire. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change frequently and quickly become dangerous.

Cooley say debris burning isn’t the only cause of fires.

“Campfires, sparks from a fire, other things we also see with these current conditions that can cause fires as well.”

With low humidity and high winds in the forecast, the DNR, the National Weather Service and other partners are paying particularly close attention to areas most at risk. The department is calling all staff available to work this weekend and gathering all their equipment.

“We have fire equipment that is available to us for fire suppression today that includes engines, tractor plows," Eric Martin said. He is a forest fire suppression specialist.

Battalion Chief Jason Schuls, at the Caledonia Fire Department, says it’s a struggle when fire crews are battling brush fires.

“We’re breathing all that combustible stuff.”

He says he’s really counting on people to use common sense and take the necessary precautions.

“Take care of your dead brush, get away from yourself and be careful of your smoking materials," Schuls said.

The DNR urges people to check with their local authorities for any burning restrictions if you are outside the DNR Protection Area.

There have already been more than 200 wildfires reported in Wisconsin so far this year, burning over 450 acres. Fire officials anticipate a slightly longer than average fire season because of how early the snow melted around the state.

Rain is expected for Monday, however the DNR warns people to take extra precautions during this "dry spell" and use extreme caution until the conditions improve. 

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