Although winter isn’t losing its grip yet, it will eventually. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advises people not to be lulled into complacency when it comes to burning this spring. Wisconsin’s traditional spring fire season is getting underway, but state and local firefighters have already been battling numerous wildfires in southern Wisconsin.
People who make their homes fire safe can not only reduce the risk of wildfires destroying their home, but can also make it easier and safer for firefighters to protect the home in the event of a blaze.
Some steps homeowners who live in or near grasslands or woodlands can take to protect their property from wildfire include the following:
Clear leaves, brush and dry grass within 30 feet of houses and other structures
Remove all dead trees and shrubs within 100 feet of the house and space remaining trees at least 10 feet apart.
Cut all branches to the height of six feet to prevent surface fires from spreading into treetops.
Clean the roof and rain gutters regularly, keeping them free of twigs, leaves and pine needles.
Remove all tree limbs within 10 feet of the chimney or stovepipe.
Store firewood and other combustible materials like picnic tables at least 30 feet away from the house and other buildings and clear a space of at least 10 feet around them.
“Knowing your local open burning laws and regulations is another very important step people can take to be more fire-conscious,” said John Gillen, forester/ranger for the DNR. “In Oneida County, burning permits-which are free-are required when burning anytime the ground is not 100 percent snow-covered.” Those who plan to obtain an annual burning permit may do so and may view the current fire danger online at dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.asp. A permit may also be obtained by contacting a local DNR office or emergency fire warden.
In Wisconsin, debris burning is the main cause of wildfires. Fortunately, these fires are the easiest to prevent. DNR fire specialists hope Wisconsin residents will practice fire safety and use common sense, as well as follow state regulations, if planning to burn yard waste this spring. To avoid the unpredictable nature of a wildfire, the DNR encourages alternatives to burning such as composting, recycling and making brush piles in the woods to enhance wildlife habitat.
For more information, call (715) 365-2634.