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April 19, 2011

April 17-23 Wildfire Prevention Week in Wisconsin

MADISON - Wisconsin residents are beginning spring cleanup around their yards and with peak wildfire season underway, it's more important than ever for people to get the proper burning permits first. This year, the Department of Natural Resources makes it even easier to get the necessary burning permits by issuing them over the phone and via the internet.

Smokey Bear
Smokey wants you to help prevent forest fires by getting a permit before you burn debris.
WDNR Photo

April 17-23 has been designated as Wildfire Prevention Week in Wisconsin and the upper Great Lakes region by the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact. The compact is made up of the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, which have created a formal association in order to promote effective prevention, pre-suppression and control of forest fires in the upper Great Lakes region.

DNR fire control and local fire departments have already responded to more than 100 wildfires in 2011.

Statistics show that burning permits, if used appropriately, are an important tool in wildfire prevention and encourage the public to burn safely. Under current law, people living in DNR fire protection districts who want to burn legal materials (e.g. leaves, brush, and pine needles) must first get written permission and then call or check online on the day of the planned burn for any daily restrictions.

Written burning permits can now be obtained online through the DNR website with a valid email address or by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. A customer service representative will issue the permit over the phone. It will be delivered by U.S. mail or by email.

Customers also can continue to visit their local ranger station or emergency fire warden for permits. All permits are good for the calendar year and free.

Tips for safe burning

The public is reminded it's illegal to burn plastic, recyclable paper, cardboard, garbage, asphalt, treated or painted wood, rubber or oily substances, or structures of any kind (barns, sheds, homes, etc.) with the annual DNR burn permit.

Burning should be the last alternative; consider composting and avoid burning if at all possible. If you do burn debris, forestry officials suggest the following safety tips:

"Extra precautions are needed during this time of year to avoid starting a wildfire. The dry ground cover from last fall catches fire easily. DNR and many local municipalities have regulations that limit burning activities in an effort to reduce the number of wildfires," said Trent Marty, Director for Bureau of Forest Protection for the DNR.

On average, people cause more than 1,500 fires that burn more than 3,000 acres every year in Wisconsin. Wildfires are most often caused by burning debris, arson, and when hot equipment or sparks ignite dry materials. Statistics show that more wildfires occur during March, April and May than in other months. The spring wildfire season ends when leaves emerge on trees and grasses green up.

Find more information online on DNR burning permits and the current statewide fire danger in Wisconsin.. For recycling or composting ideas visit the alternatives to burning web page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Koele, wildfire prevention specialist - (608) 266-2359

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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