10 YEARS AGO: Lessons learned from Wisconsin’s Germann Road Fire
WISCONSIN. (Northern News Now) - Fire danger is high Monday across the Northland, similar to conditions seen a decade ago when the Germann Road Fire first broke out.
The Germann Road fire started near Gordon on May 14, 2013.
Eventually, authorities determined the fire was started by a spark from a logging crew cutting trees.
The fire ended up burning about 7,500 acres in Douglas and Bayfield counties.
It also forced many people in its path to evacuate.
No one was hurt in the fire, but it destroyed more than 100 buildings including 23 homes.
It took crews two days to get the fire under control.
Wisconsin DNR leaders say the conditions on that day were a perfect storm due to the dry conditions and winds gusting up to 20 miles per hour.
There was also very low moisture in the jack pine tree population, which created an ignition source for the fire to spread quickly.
Shortly after the fire, the DNR began studying how they could protect homes in case conditions like those were to fuel another large wildfire.
They took a look at all the structures that burned to determine what caused them to catch fire.
Ben Garrett, Wildland Urban Interface Specialist for the Wisconsin DNR, says they found the homes that were destroyed had dry debris within 30 feet of the structure.
“Getting pine trees out of there, mowing the lawn, raking the needles and all of that sort of maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to protect your structure,” explains Garrett.
Reducing flammable siding and roofing material can also help to protect your home.
Since the historic fire on Germann Road, the DNR has also changed its wildfire-fighting tactics.
“Instead of putting [fire partners] in front of the flames to try and make the flames go away, we follow the flame front and put out hot spots around homes which saves a lot more structures,” Garrett said.
With conditions on Monday similar to what occurred 10 years ago, Garrett says he hopes they don’t see a fire break out this week but they are prepared if one does.
The DNR has every piece of equipment they own staffed, and fire departments and railroads on standby.
Burn permits in the area are also suspended right now due to the conditions.
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