The DNR has suspended burn permits in 43 counties across the state that are DNR Burn Protection Areas. This includes Crawford and Richland counties. Vernon County is not a DNR Burn Protection Area, and currently burn bans for today and through the weekend are in effect in the Stoddard and Coon Valley fire districts.
DNR Forest Fire Suppression Specialist Eric Martin addressed the current conditions of elevated wildfire danger on Friday.
“We are asking state citizens to avoid burning this weekend, especially with dry conditions and high winds on Friday, April 2,” Martin said. “Even on Saturday and Sunday, with lighter winds expected, the danger remains elevated.”
Martin said total number of fires in this year’s spring wildfire season are already well above the five-to-ten year average, with warmer temperatures and snow melt having come about two weeks earlier than normal. Another unusual thing was that the entire state became snow-free at the same time this year. So far, there have been 55 wildfires this season that have burned more than 200 acres.
“Spring fire season goes from snow melt into May and June when vegetation becomes lush and green.” DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Cathering Koele explained. “Current conditions include warm temperatures and dry relative humidities, and we are most concerned about fire potential for our fine fuels or grass.”
Martin said that DNR has all of their fire fighting equipment staffed at maximum capacity for fire suppression through the weekend, and all staff have been called onto active duty. He said that DNR has also secured the possibility of aerial suppression support services from the National Guard for the next five-to-ten days.Koele said that the burn ban does not include campfires for cooking or warming, but that extreme caution is advised with these types of fires. Her advice is that these types of fires be kept small and covered if possible, the area around the fire be kept clear of debris, and it is better to burn in the evening when humidity generally increases and winds tend to die down.