DNR: Fire danger 'high' or 'very high' for all of SE Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a reminder for residents Saturday, March 20 that fire danger remains high across the state this weekend.

On Saturday, there were 36 fires burning over 100 acres. Five structures were burned and several more were threatened.

Sunday's forecast calls for continued critical fire weather, including warmer temps and gusty southerly winds. Fire danger is expected to remain high to very high across the state. The DNR urged residents to be aware of rapidly changing fire conditions.

Unlike the western U.S., spring is the most dangerous time for wildfires in Wisconsin. After the snow melts and before plants, trees and grass turn green, fires can spread quickly.

Areas with VERY HIGH danger Saturday included more than three dozen counties, including Fond du Lac and Sheboygan.

Areas with HIGH fire danger Saturday included an additional 31 counties, including  Dodge, Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha.

So far this year, 47% of wildfires were caused by debris burning, the leading cause of Wisconsin’s wildfires. Fires caused by careless burning become more frequent this time of year.

The 2021 fire season follows a winter with below-normal snow depths. Fire control officials are focusing on the potential for statewide fire activity as the snow is rapidly melting at the same time.

Wildfires can happen just about any time of the year, but historically, 60% of all annual wildfires in Wisconsin occur in March, April and May alone. 

The DNR requires burning permits in many parts of the state to conduct legal and responsible burning outdoors. Be fire smart this spring and get your free annual burning permit. Burning permits are free and easy to obtain and protect lives, property and natural resources from the damages of wildfires.

Burning permits are expected to be suspended in several counties on Sunday. Please check back often as conditions continue to change. 

More information on burning permits, fire danger and preparing for wildfires around your home and property is available on the DNR’s burning restrictions webpage.

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