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UPDATE: DNR Bills Loggers $600K over Douglas Co. Wildfire

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
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UPDATED: Mon 4:02 PM, Sept 09, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Department of Natural Resources will bill a logging company more than $600,000 for starting a massive wildfire earlier this year.

The blaze broke out in May in Douglas County. Shortly after firefighters contained the fire the DNR released a statement saying a logging crew started the fire. Prosecutors said there was no criminal intent.

The DNR released a statement on Monday, though, saying the crew had a fire suppression mechanism on their equipment that wasn't properly maintained and hadn't been tested.

DNR officials say the crew's company, Ray Duerr Logging, was negligent and should cover the cost of extinguishing the blaze, estimated at about $633,000.

A message left at a listing for the company wasn't immediately returned.

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UPDATE: 5/16 at 2:24 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities say logging operations started a massive wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin that destroyed more than a dozen homes.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that law enforcement officials confirmed logging equipment started the fire.
The fire began Tuesday afternoon. It destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate as the blaze burned across 9,000 acres. But no injuries have been reported.

The blaze began Tuesday afternoon near Simms Lake in Douglas County, 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn. Authorities say firefighters had the fire contained by late Wednesday evening.

The DNR made the announcement on its official Twitter feed. An agency spokesman declined immediate comment.

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UPDATE: 5/16 at 10:11 a.m.

(Press Release) Governor Scott Walker has issued Executive Order #103 declaring a state of emergency in response to a forest fire, which has destroyed more than 9,000 acres in Bayfield and Douglas Counties.

“Tonette and I send our prayers and concern to the people who have lost property and those who have been evacuated because of this forest fire,” Governor Walker said. “As we continue to closely monitor the situation, I want to thank our first responders, the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their work battling this forest fire. I also would like to thank the States of Minnesota and Michigan, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Province of Ontario for their assistance.”

Thus far, 47 structures have been lost, including 17 homes, 15 garages, 9 outbuildings, and 6 others. Firefighters from 37 fire departments have saved 77 structures, including 42 homes. No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The forest fire, known as “The Germann Road Fire,” is the largest in Wisconsin since the Oak Lake Fire that burned over 11,400 acres in Washburn County on April 22, 1980.

Governor Walker plans to tour the affected area and visit with first responders and local officials Thursday at the Gordon Fire Hall with Adjutant General Donald Dunbar, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, and Wisconsin Emergency Management officials.

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UPDATE: 5/16 at 9:14 a.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Firefighters battling a 9,000-acre in northwestern Wisconsin have contained the massive blaze.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Robert Manwell said Thursday the fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties is 100 percent contained. Manwell says fire crews will be handling small brush fires and reworking the lines that contain the wildfire.

Authorities opened all roads in the area overnight and some residents headed back to their homes. The fire, which began Tuesday, destroyed 17 homes and 30 other structures. The DNR says no one has been hurt in the largest forest fire to hit northern Wisconsin in 33 years.

Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in Douglas and Bayfield counties, which makes the Wisconsin National Guard available for recovery efforts. The governor plans to tour the area Thursday.

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UPDATE: 5/15 at 3:46 p.m.

The Department of Natural Resources has established a hotline which residents potentially impacted by the Germann Road Fire in Douglas County can call to learn about the status of their homes and property.

The phone number, 715-376-4185, will connect residents directly to Incident Command where staff are prepared to help update them regarding the status of buildings on their property.

Residents wishing to visit their property will need to be escorted. Arrangements for such site visits to retrieve pets and supplies can be arranged by calling the hotline.

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UPDATE: 5/14 at 1:47 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Department of Natural Resources officials say there could be air quality problems downwind of a northwestern Wisconsin wildfire.

The DNR issued an Air Quality Special Notice on Wednesday.

Agency spokesman Kevin Harter says they haven't had any reports of problems but residents in Bayfield and Douglas counties, where the fire has been burning, or counties directly to the south should be cautious.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon and has destroyed nearly 50 structures and forced dozens from their homes. Firefighters have stopped most of the fire from spreading as of Wednesday afternoon.

The DNR says people should monitor their symptoms and consult a physician if they have concerns about smoke exposure.

Symptoms include irritation of eyes, nose and throat, or breathing discomfort. Smoke can aggravate chronic lung or cardiovascular disease.

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UPDATE: 5/15 at 9:40 a.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Firefighters worked to contain a smoky wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin that has consumed 8,700 acres, destroyed nearly 50 structures and forced dozens from their homes.

The Department of Natural Resources says the wildfire is about 90 percent contained, meaning firefighters have stopped most of the fire from spreading.

DNR spokesman Kevin Harter says while 47 structures were lost, including 17 homes, firefighters were able to save 77 additional structures. He says there have been no injuries to either firefighters or residents of the affected area.

Harter says 60 evacuees registered at Drummond High School and 22 stayed overnight.

DNR officials say the wildfire was first reported near the Town of Barnes Tuesday. Conservation wardens went door-to-door in the area to alert homeowners of the fire danger.

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ORIGINAL STORY: 5/14 at 10:26 p.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Crews from Wisconsin and Minnesota are rushing into northwestern Wisconsin to try to control a wildfire that prompted evacuations in the sparsely populated area.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports several structures have been destroyed. No injuries are reported.

Residents are being evacuated from lake homes and cabins in the Rock Lake, Loon Lake, Murray Lake and Beauregard Lake areas. DNR spokesman Bill Cosh says 150 people from the Potawatomi Village are being evacuated.

Cosh says the fire has jumped state Highway 27. The fire covers 5.5 square miles.

Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kesler tells the Duluth News Tribune that the fire was moving into Bayfield County.

Air tankers and scoop planes from both Wisconsin and Minnesota are being used to drop water on the fire.


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