Gov. Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency, as all of Wisconsin is currently at a high wildfire risk. A combination of unseasonable warm weather, dry vegetation fresh from the thaw, and low humidity has fueled these concerns.
The executive order issued by Evers will allow the National Guard to assist by mobilizing its Black Hawk helicopters in areas most in need of aerial fire suppression. The order also directs all Wisconsin state agencies to assist in appropriate wildfire prevention, according to a press release by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
So far, there have been over 320 wildfires reported in Wisconsin. The flames have burned over 1,400 acres, and fire officials fear the season may drag out slightly longer than average. That’s largely due to the early snow melts, which have come with warming weather patterns. Wisconsinites are encouraged to avoid outside burning, including campfires, and to properly dispose of cigarettes and similar lit objects.
“Outdoor enthusiasts should also use caution with off-road vehicles or equipment that can create a spark and start a fire,” the release states. “Keep in mind that weather conditions can change frequently and quickly become dangerous.”