Burning permits now required
While spring is always welcome after Wisconsin’s long winters, seasonal warm and dry conditions can result in increased wildfires.
That’s why Jason Hennes with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the Hartman Creek State Park office is gearing up for spring wildfire season and reminding residents to get their burning permit now.
“Weather is the single most important factor influencing how fires start and spread. Temperature, wind, humidity and precipitation are the key weather components that determine the daily fire danger,” Hennes said.
Debris burning is the No. 1 cause of Wisconsin’s wildfires and fires caused by careless burning become more frequent this time of year.
This year’s fire season is following historic patterns with peak activity expected during April.
Wildfires can happen just about any time of the year, but history has shown 60 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin each year occur in March, April and May alone.
“Many people are eager to get outside to clean-up their properties by raking leaf litter, brush and pine needles so it looks good and is ready for new growth. Then, they choose to burn their debris pile,” Hennes said.
Rainy weather does not mean conditions are safe for debris burning. Light fuels, such as leaves, grasses and pine needles in sandy soils can dry out quickly turn into hazardous conditions in a matter of a day.
Fire control officials stress the importance of knowing the local fire danger.
Throughout the spring, DNR monitors the weather and fuel conditions daily. This influences the fire danger, most often communicated on Smokey Bear fire danger adjective level signs. Fire danger sign levels range from “low” to “extreme.”
“The signs describe the potential for a fire to start and spread and the intensity at which a fire will burn in the wildland,” Hennes said. “Our hope is that the public will take note of these signs, check our website or hotline and adapt their behavior and act responsibly.”
Penalties exist for anyone found responsible for causing a wildland fire.
“You could be liable for the costs it takes to suppress that fire and potentially any damages. Getting your permit and checking those daily fire restrictions is a much cheaper and safer option,” Hennes said. “To avoid these concerns altogether, consider composting your yard waste or hauling it to a transfer site. Burning debris should always be the last alternative.”
As soon as the snow cover is gone, burning permits are required in DNR Protection Areas. Permit holders are authorized
to burn vegetative materials, such as leaves, brush and pine needles and are designed so that burning is done safely with minimal wildfire risk.
“Obtaining a burn permit is easy, fast and the best part is: they are free. For the average customer, it takes less than two minutes to go online and apply. It’s good for the calendar year and we can even email or mail it right away,” Hennes said. “With a little planning and dedication to getting your burn permit and following the rules, we can all work together to prevent wildfires.”
To obtain an annual DNR burning permit go online at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “burn permit,” or call 1-888-947-2876. to have it mailed or instantly emailed. Residents also can visit a local DNR office or designated Emergency Fire Warden.
Once an individual has a burning permit, he or she must call or go online after 11 a.m. on the day of the planned burn to check daily fire restrictions to hear the legal burning hours and size limitations or if burning has been suspended for the day.
Some areas of the state are not regulated by DNR so it’s important to check with local municipal or fire department officials for any ordinances or other burning restrictions.
For more information on burning permits, fire danger and preparing for wildfires around your home and property, visit dnr.wi.gov search “fire.”