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DNR starts prescribed burn in Dane County, urges fire safety

DANE COUNTY (WKOW) — Much of Wisconsin is under a high risk for fire this weekend.

State officials say there have been 42 wildfires in the past week, including 15 in our area.

That’s why experts say fire safety is important this time of year.

The end of the snow means a lot of dry, dead grass in many areas, ideal for burning.

At the Brooklyn Wildlife Area, the Department of Natural Resources took many precautions to get ready for their prescribed burns.

“There’s always an inherent risk in working with fire,” Michele Witecha, DNR Prescribed Fire Specialist, said. “We recognize that and our plans that we have in place do everything possible to mitigate that risk, but the truth of the matter is that you’re still working with a force of nature.”

The DNR does those burns to encourage new plant growth and stop invasive species.

Since it had been several years since the last prescribed burn at the wildlife area, fire took easily.

The prescribed burn tore through as intended.

While it is important to do these burns every so often, the DNR urges private land owners to think twice before trying it on their property.

“We applaud that they want to do ecological burns on their property,” Witecha said. “At the same time, we want to make sure that they’re doing them without any cost to life or structure or resources.”

They ask that you avoid burning debris when it’s this dry.

When it is safe to burn, they recommend having a thorough plan including knowing what’s downwind from you, what the wind is doing and contacting local authorities.

“One of the main things to think about is to have that plan in place,” Witecha said. “Should something bad happen, know what you’re going to do so it’s not a panic situation.”

Until the rain comes and new grass starts growing, the fire risk will remain high.

If you can’t handle a raging wildfire, it’s best to avoid starting any fires.

Courtney Terlecki

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