Wildfires Spark During Days of Red Flag Warnings


HOLD THE LINE – Firefighters operating under the joint command of Fort McCoy and the DNR use backing fires to eliminate fuel for the raging wildfire to use.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources responded to over 97 wildfires that burned approximately 3,200 acres since Monday, April 10.

The two major wildfires were the 100-acre Jack Pine Fire and the 3000-acre Arcadia Fire, much of which occurred within Fort McCoy.

On Monday, April 10, the weather in southwestern and central Wisconsin began to enter an unsafe combination of intense heat, low humidity, high wind gusts and quickly dried light fuels. Due to their “VERY HIGH” fire danger status, the DNR banned annual burn permits in 19 counties.

Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order #191 and declared a State of Emergency to mobilize National Guard resources for wildfire fighting on Wednesday, April 12.

Working with the National Weather Service, the DNR declared a Red Flag warning, which communicates the extreme danger of burning to the public, from April 12 to Friday, April 14.

The Fire Danger index returned to “LOW” status statewide by the morning of Sunday, April 16. Much of southwestern and central Wisconsin, which previously had “EXTREME” fire danger, received snowfall.

The Jack Pine Fire was reported
during the afternoon of April 12 on private property in the town of Necedah, Juneau County, and was declared extinguished by April 14.

Residents were advised to evacuate.

Per the DNR Fire Management Dashboard, the preliminary report details that 87 acres burned, 81 structures were saved and five structures were lost. No injuries were reported. The determined cause was equipment-based and was most likely “hot work: welder/grinder/torch/cutter.”

The DNR communicated via Facebook on April 12 that “Wisconsin National Guard Blackhawk helicopters are making bucket drops to slow the fire’s progression while ground resources are attacking the edges.”

They also reported that the fire had been contained by the evening of April 12, but that mop-up and patrol would continue through April 13. By April 13, evacuation notices were rescinded.

The Arcadia Fire was reported
on April 12 at the north end of Fort McCoy, Monroe County, and declared extinguished on the morning of April 16.

Eleven different government agencies participated in responding to the fire, totaling a response team of “12 heavy units, 18 engines, one air attack … three Wisconsin National Guard Blackhacks, two hand crews from the Department of Corrections and five fire departments,” per the DNR website.

The preliminary report on the DNR Fire Management Dashboard lists that 3,036 acres burned, 276 structures were saved and one structure was lost. No injuries were reported.

The exact area of the fire has differed as measurements have come in; the DNR initially reported 3,186 acres, then 3,092 via their Facebook and website. Evacuations continued from April 12 until noon on April 14, at which point all residents living on nearby roads were allowed to return to their homes.

The DNR provided in their initial Facebook post that “a thorough investigation is being conducted on the cause of the wildfire. The team consists of personnel and wildland fire investigators who are trained to look at specific indicators at the origin of the fire. These investigations can take time. More information will be shared as it becomes available.”

Numerous Facebook commenters have noted that the U.S. Army had been performing a controlled burn at Fort McCoy, but no credit has been established for such claims.