Central Wisconsin Wildfire Consumes Nearly 1,000 Acres, Forces Evacuations

July 12, 2023

MADISON, Wis. (AP) __ A wildfire in central Wisconsin has consumed almost 1000 acres (405 hectares) and forced evacuations of scores of properties.

State Department of Natural Resources officials said at a news conference Tuesday that the fire began Monday afternoon in Waushara County. Dry vegetation and strong winds helped the fire spread, they said. A hundred properties were evacuated. DNR officials did not describe the properties and had no estimates on the number of people displaced.

Firefighters had the blaze 99% contained by late Monday evening, meaning they had essentially halted the fire’s spread. They were still battling flames inside that perimeter on Tuesday morning, however.

The fire had consumed 830 acres (335 hectares) by Tuesday morning. Three homes and 17 outbuildings had been destroyed, according to a DNR tally. Eight firefighters had been treated for heat and smoke exposure.

Bruce Henderson, DNR incident commander, said the fire was sparked by someone burning debris. That person started the debris fire sometime before Monday but failed to completely extinguish it, Henderson said.

The area has been suffering from drought conditions but Waushara County residents don`t need DNR burning permits from June 1 to Dec. 31, Henderson said. Only an executive order from the governor could impose burning permit restrictions outside of that window, he said.

Investigators have identified the person believed responsible but did not release a name during the news conference. Henderson said the person likely will be held liable for the cost of fighting the fire.

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