TOWN OF NECEDAH (Juneau County), Wis. (WFHR) – A wildfire in Juneau County scorched over 100 acres on Wednesday afternoon, prompting evacuations, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR said that no injuries have been reported as a result of the fire in the Town of Necedah northwest of the Village of Necedah, or near the Necedah Airport.
No cause of the fire has been found yet, and as of 7:42 p.m., the fire was contained, according to a social media post by the DNR. Structures were confirmed to have been destroyed in the fire, according to the DNR.
The Wisconsin National Guard was called in to assist in putting out the fire, along with fire departments from Necedah, Cutler, Armenia and Tomah, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, and officials and law enforcement from Juneau County and area cities.
Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order Wednesday declaring a state of emergency due to the critical risk of wildfires. The measure allows support for the DNR from the Wisconsin National Guard in the event of wildfire outbreaks. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for about two-thirds of Wisconsin, including Juneau County, with a fire weather watch in effect for several other counties, due to unseasonably warm temperatures, gusty winds, and low humidity.
The DNR has most of the same counties in its two highest categories for wildfire risk, extreme and high, with Juneau County squarely in the “extreme” risk category, its highest designation. The DNR has said this week would present fire risks due to dry weather and typical spring conditions in Wisconsin that are conducive to wildfires.
According to the NWS, the warm air, bringing temperatures well into the 80’s and even into the 90’s across the state, as well as low humidity values of 20 to 25% and winds gusting to 35 mph, are all factors in the fire risk. Any fires that are started outdoors will spread quickly, with similar conditions expected on Thursday. With elevated fire danger across most of the southern half of the state, the DNR said that there have already been 56 wildfires through Tuesday this week. Outdoor burning is not recommended at this time.
According to the DNR, springtime is the most critical fire season in Wisconsin. That’s because leftover plant debris from the fall is dried out, while vegetation has not yet had a chance to flourish, creating hazardous conditions that could allow wildfires to spread quickly. Warmer temperatures in the spring, combined with low humidity and wind can fuel fires. Human activities, such as burning yard waste and clearing property, contribute to the majority of wildfires in the spring. Spring wildfires, from March through May, comprise the majority of all annual wildfires in Wisconsin over the past decade, according to the DNR.
The DNR provides a number of resources to help families, property owners, and communities plan for wildfires, including action plans if a wildfire is near a populated area.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- Avoid outdoor burning until conditions improve. Burn permits for debris burning are currently suspended in numerous counties.
- Operate equipment (chainsaws, off-road vehicles, lawnmowers, etc.) early in the morning or late in the day to avoid sparks at peak burn hours.
- Secure dragging trailer chains.
- Report fires early, dial 911.