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News Release

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
West Central Region Headquarters - Eau Claire
PO Box 4001 Eau Claire, WI 54702-4001
Phone: (715) 839-3700 TDD: (715) 839-2786

For Release: September 2, 2003

Contact(s): Randy Schott, Black River Falls, Area Forestry Leader, (715) 284-1414
Dave Weitz, Eau Claire, Public Affairs Manager, (715) 839-3715

Fire Danger Prompts Emergency Rules

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – A prolonged drought has caused fire danger in the Department of Natural Resources’ Black River Falls Fire Protection Area to increase, resulting in an emergency order restricting the outdoor use of fire in parts of Jackson, Clark, and Eau Claire counties, according to Randy Schott, Department of Natural Resources area forestry manager at Black River Falls.

The order is to become effective on September 4th.

Burning permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources are being suspended in Chippewa and Monroe Counties immediately. More stringent fire precautions are being ordered for Eau Claire, Jackson and Clark counties.

Schott said continuing dry conditions are making fires difficult for fire crews to extinguish. Currently this area’s precipitation is 5 inches below average rainfall for 2003 at the end of August. The last widespread rainfall was on July 15.

Schott said the National Weather Service has designated this area to be under moderate drought conditions. The outlook for relief is uncertain for several days. Fires are burning into stumps, roots and forest floor debris requiring much additional work after initial control of a fire. In addition peat fires, which can smolder for days and weeks burning in organic matter under the ground’s surface, are occurring more regularly. Extinguishing these underground fires is extremely expensive and time consuming and ties up fire fighters that might be needed elsewhere. Department fire crews along with volunteer fire department staff are required to work long hours contributing to fatigue and creating safety concerns. Fire starts have increased in the last three weeks. Extra precautions must now be taken to reduce this risk.

The emergency measures prohibit the use of charcoal for fuel and will restrict persons to the use of propane fueled cooking burners, according to Schott.

Under the emergency rules it is unlawful for any person within the boundaries of the forest fire control areas to:

bulletBuild a campfire in any manner except in developed camping areas.
bulletSmoke a pipe, cigar or cigarette except at places of residence, or in a vehicle equipped with an ash receptacle.
bulletThrow matches, ashes or burning material from a vehicle.
bulletBurn combustible materials including use of a burn barrel.

 

Black River Falls fire protection area

 

 

 

 

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