UPDATE: Northern WI wildfire 95 percent contained - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Northern WI wildfire 95 percent contained

Posted:
Courtesy: Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources Courtesy: Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
GORDON (WKOW) -- The Department of Natural Resources says the wildfire burning in northern Wisconsin is about 95 percent contained.

Here is the latest status update from the DNR:

The huge wildfire that raced across Douglas and parts of Bayfield counties May 14 and 15 is roughly 95 percent contained as of 6 p.m. May 15. Crews will continue to work through the night to complete fire lines and address hotspots. Fixed wing air tankers, called in from Ontario, worked through the day in coordination with ground crews and were released back to their bases late this afternoon. Two National Guard helicopters equipped with buckets remained in the area.

The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.  DNR law enforcement specialists are actively investigating the fire cause.

An information line 715-376-4185 has been set up for evacuees at the fire command center where they can get up to date information on damage to structures. The information line will be staffed until 10:30 p.m. May 15, and reopened at 8 a.m. on May 16.

All roads in the area have been cleared of debris however officials stress that persons entering the area will continue to see flames lingering in stumps, fallen trees and brush piles. This will be especially noticeable after sunset. It is possible that additional debris will appear on roads over nighttime hours. Any travelers are advised to drive slowly and be alert. Firefighting equipment and firefighters will also be on area roads, fields and forests throughout the night.

Officials stress that waiting until daylight hours to enter the area is the safer choice.

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GORDON (WKOW) -- Crews from the Department of Natural Resources and local firefighters worked through the night on a large wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin.
 
The DNR says they have largely surrounded the Germann Road fire, which has scorched about 8,700 acres of forest in Douglas and Bayfield Counties.
 
This is the largest forest fire to hit northern Wisconsin in 33 years, according to the DNR. No injuries were reported, but homes are being evacuated. Some homes have been destroyed.
 
"With wind out of the northwest, our concern has been the southern and eastern flanks of the fire," said DNR incident commander Larry Gladowski. "We should have control shortly. It was 90 percent contained at 7 a.m. Now with hot, dry and windy conditions forecast for today, we are asking people to be extremely careful so no more destructive fires are started."
 
Residents were evacuated from Loon Lake Sand Lake, Murray Lake, Potowatomi Estates, Rock Lake, Beauregard Lake, Catherine Lake, Ellison Lake and the Village of Barnes. Officials have set up an evacuation center at Drummond High School. The American Red Cross and state emergency management officials are helping.
 
As of 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, there were 59 evacuees registered at the high school and 22 people slept on cots overnight. Those evacuees will not be able to check their properties Wednesday. Instead, the Red Cross and emergency officials will make arrangements for a place for them to stay.
 
Once the main fire is contained, the DNR says it will take crews several days to get a handle on hot spots within the containment area.
 
So far, 47 structures have been lost, including 17 homes, 15 garages, nine out buildings and six other buildings. Firefighters have been able to save 77 structures, including 42 houses.
 
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
 
Nineteen fire departments helped the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service in the wildfire battle. Two 415 water bombers from Ontario and two Blackhawk helicopters from the Wisconsin National Guard with buckets of water will make drops. DNR pilots in spotter planes have been in the air since the fire started.
 
 
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