Wildfire season sparks in Wisconsin, DNR says

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wildfire season is in full swing, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR's dashboard shows there's been more than 50 fires this weekend alone.

"We're starting to see a lot of fire activity, particularly this weekend with the warm temperatures, low humidity, and increased winds," DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele said. 

Most of the northern part of the state is considered to be in a very high fire danger level as of Sunday afternoon, on May 8.

Something as simple as a spark getting picked up by the wind in those conditions can turn into a full blown wildfire.

"98 percent of our fires in Wisconsin are caused by people. Folks are outside enjoying the beautiful weather, raking up their yards, and choosing to burn most of those materials," Koele said.

Koele told CBS 58 a third of the fires the DNR responds to are caused by burning debris. 

A burning permit is required by the DNR in many parts of the state. Some municipalities also require a permit.

If a permit isn't required, it is recommended to let the fire department know ahead of time when and where burning is happening. 

"This weekend is one of those weekends where we're not allowing any burning permits in the northern two-thirds of the state," Koele said.

The DNR hopes that people hold off on doing any burning.

"Wait until things really green up is your best option," Koele said. 

If waiting isn't an option, be smart about it. Check the area surrounding your burn pile or campfire to remove any dead vegetation, and call 911 as soon as things get out of your control.

"When we do allow burning, it's typically in the evening when the humidity comes up and the winds die down," Koele said.

The DNR also recommends keeping a water source nearby and never leaving a fire unattended.

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