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April 17, 2012

Wildfire control officials offer top 10 reasons not to burn!

MADISON - Spring arrived early, quickly leaving many areas very dry and at high risk for wildfire.

The third week in April is designated as Wildfire Prevention Week and state wildfire control officials are asking the public to delay residential burning, on the ground or in a burn barrel, until conditions improve. The Department of Natural Resources has been and will continue to suspend burning permits in many counties throughout the spring. The safest option is to not burn at all or wait until trees and fields are green with new growth.

People can find alternatives to burning by searching "open burning" on the DNR website.

Fire danger conditions are updated everyday during Wisconsin's fire season. The department's website also directs citizens through the burning permit process and offers tips for making a home survivable from wildfire. For information search "fire" on the DNR website.

"Warmer temperatures, the start of local farmers markets, longer daylight hours, turkey season, and the anticipation of a big catch on the fishing opener all signal spring," said Trent Marty DNR chief of forest protection. "The early spring conditions and warmer temperatures motivate residents and visitors to do annual clean-up around their yards. "Don't let the recent rain lull you into season can rekindle quickly."

Here's the top 10 reasons not to burn:

  1. SAFETY: Burning places firefighters and civilians at risk. Every year, civilians are injured and even die while trying to suppress fires that have escaped. And, fire control personnel place their lives at risk with each fire they fight.
  2. STRUCTURES: Burning places homes and communities at risk. On average, Wisconsin loses nearly 80 structures every year. Firewise practices help homes survive on their own without suppression efforts.
  3. FORESTS: Unplanned and uncontrolled wildfires place natural resources at risk. Wisconsin's trees and forests support jobs and the wildlife we love to see.
  4. HISTORY: Statistics show that people cause nearly 98 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin. Debris burning is the number one human-cause and typically started by well-intended citizens who were "just cleaning up."
  5. WEATHER: More than 75 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin occur in the months of April and May alone. This time of the year, vegetation is dead and dry; winds are dry and strong and humidity is low.
  6. HEALTH: Burning can be smelly and unhealthy and your neighbors will thank you if you choose a more environmentally friendly option.
  7. ALTERNATIVES: Composting, recycling, chipping or simply leaving yard waste in the woods for wildlife habitat are smart alternatives to burning. Most communities have transfer sites or garbage pick-up and drop-off locations - pdf. Check locally before burning.
  8. COST: Anyone found responsible for starting a wildfire is liable for all suppression costs. This could mean the cost of firefighters, fire trucks, air planes and even the cost of damages. Visiting a transfer site or paying a minimal fee to dispose of yard waste and garbage is a worthwhile investment.
  9. LAWS: It is unlawful to burn garbage. DNR burning permits are only good for the burning of brush, leaves, pine needles, grass, clean wood and unrecyclable paper or cardboard.
  10. RESPONSIBILITY: Burning is not the only option these days. If you must burn, wait until the fire danger is LOW. Always obtain proper permits and check with local fire officials for the best time to burn and other tips to make your fire safe. Follow Smokey's lead: "Only you can prevent wildfires!" See Smokey's playlist on the DNR YouTube channel.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Koele - 608-266-2359 or Bob Manwell - 608-267-9248

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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