Wisconsin DNR reports increasing grass fires earlier than usual

23 grass fires have been reported in Wisconsin this year including Waushara and Portage counties
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:12 PM CDT
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PLOVER, Wis. (WSAW) - At this point, the DNR has reported 23 wildfires this season, including three Tuesday in Waushara County alone.

Portage County even had one on Monday. Within the past two weeks, there’s been over a dozen fires reported.

“The majority of our fires, we typically see 800 to 1,000 fires every year in Wisconsin,” says Catherine Koele, wildfire prevention specialist, Wisconsin DNR. She said that the fires usually only affect one to two acres because they are able to attack those fires very quickly.

“Once the snow melts, you have this grass or other vegetation that has been dormant since late fall. In the spring once the snow melts, it dries out and becomes really combustible and can easily catch fire and burn this time of year,” said NewsChannel 7 Chief Meteorologist Mark Holley.

The majority of the recent grass fires in Wisconsin have been in southcentral Wisconsin.

The DNR also advises people to be extra cautious as we get deeper into the spring season and remain aware of the conditions before burning on their own. “If it’s really windy, we say not burn. If you’re going to burn, make sure to keep the debris pile small and controllable and always have water in case conditions change,” said Plover Deputy EMS Chief Anthony Luchini.

“The DNR does regulate burning in DNR protection areas. Burning permits are free and the point of them is to burn when it is safe,” added Koele.

The average grass fire season typically runs from late March through May until the grass can hold more moisture and “green up.”