While the month of April not only offers showers that bring May flowers, but it also means the start of wildfire season. Over the weekend between Shawano and Menominee counties, there were five wildfires that caught a blaze quickly.
“These were out of control wildfires,” said Eric Roers, a DNR Wildlife Forester. “Most of them started by people burning their debris piles, their grass, their leaves, their lawn clippings and it got away from them. Four or five days ago, it was still spitting rain and snowing. It only took three halfway nice days and now we’re running on fires, so everything kind of dried out at once and it surprised some folks.”
Burning debris is not illegal in the state of Wisconsin, but Roers explains there are safety measures people can take to ensure a safe burn, and it starts by obtaining a burning permit.
“You get a burning permit and it’s good for the entire year, but you need to check to make sure that that permit is valid each day that you’re going to burn,” Roers said. “Just having that permit in hand isn’t enough. You need to call the 1-800 number, or go to the website and make sure that your permit is valid for that day and what hours it’s valid for.”
DNR Supervisors are in charge of looking at the weather and monitoring burning conditions, which means they can change from day-to-day or hour-to-hour. Conditions supervisors monitor include the wind and field moisture.
“If you’re going to use a barrel, what we ask is that you put a screen over that barrel,” Roers added. “If you have an open barrel, it’s not too hard for one of those papers to loft up and sail away from you, just those simple things.”
A burning permit is free and can be obtained in person from the emergency fire warden, by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN, or by logging onto the DNR’s website.