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PSA video

"Fire Adapted Communities: It only takes a single ember [exit DNR]"

Contact information
Catherine Koele
Forest fire prevention specialist
715-356-5211 x208

'Be Ember Aware'

Prevent wildfires

Think your fire is out? Well, check again! Embers left behind from debris piles, campfires or ashes dumped from cleaning out woodstoves or fireplaces can remain hot for days, even weeks. Those smoldering embers can easily rekindle, escape and cause a wildfire.

Be ember aware! [VIDEO Length 4:07]

Yard cleanup is an annual tradition for many landowners in the spring and a common practice to dispose of leaves, brush and pine needles is to burn debris piles. Many responsible debris burners obtain proper permits and conduct their burn, but neglect to make certain their fire is out before leaving.

Debris burning continues to be the number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin. Always obtain proper permits and conduct your debris burn in a safe location away from flammables. Before leaving your burn, use plenty of water, stir the ashes with a rake or shovel and repeat these steps until cold. Then, come back later to check again for any coals hidden in the ashes.

Prepare your home

During a wildfire, tiny embers are carried by the wind and can rain down on your home like an ember blizzard. They may seem harmless but embers are a real threat to your home.

The home ignition zone is your home and its surroundings out to 100-200 feet. How you manage your property around your home plays a big part in the likelihood of your home surviving a wildfire. You can make your home more "firewise" by being deliberate about the location of flammable items in your home ignition zone.

Image detailing how far away to keep flammables from your home

Find out if your home would survive a wildfire. Take our homeowner self-assessment [PDF]!

What we learned from the Germann Road Fire

On May 14, 2013 a single spark from a logging operation in Douglas County ignited a wildfire that consumed 7,442 acres. Named the Germann Road Fire due to its location, the fire burned more than 100 buildings, including 23 homes and seasonal cabins. Another 350 buildings were in harm's way, yet ultimately survived or were saved by fire suppression efforts. A research project conducted shortly after the fire provided us with an opportunity to share information with property owners on how to prepare your home and property for a wildfire. Some of our findings can be viewed in the adjacent slideshow.

How can you prepare for embers?

Defensible space is the area 30 feet around buildings that is maintained to limit the amount of flammable vegetation, debris and man-made objects that can become 'fuel' for a wildfire. You can prepare for embers with a few simple steps:

  • Rake leaves away from the side of your house and from under your deck.
  • Remove leaves and pine needles from your roof and gutters.
  • Remove flammable items (like wood mulch) from the five-foot zone nearest your home.
  • Move firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.
Last revised: Thursday July 02 2015