GORDON (Press Release from DNR) - The Department of Natural Resources has declared the Germann Road Fire 100 percent contained as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 with acreage adjusted to 8,131 acres burned due to more detailed mapping of the fire.
DNR law enforcement, working with the Douglas County District Attorney's Office, reports that the fire was caused by equipment associated with logging operations.
"While we do have the fire completely contained, we still have a lot of work ahead of us," says Trent Mary, director of DNR Bureau of Forest Protection. "To be clear, the fire is not 100 percent under control. We do have a line around the fire and we've been successful in being able to keep it within the perimeter containment lines. There are still a number of hot spots within the fire perimeter that we are concerned with and are continuing to suppress."
The cause of the fire has now been confirmed by law enforcement officials that the fire started from a logging crew harvesting timber on industrial timber lands. The operator of the logging equipment noticed smoke coming from below the cutting head of the machine while harvesting timber.
"The operator got out of the machine and made a concerted effort to extinguish the fire using a fire extinguisher located in the cab of the harvester," says Gary Bibow, Fire Law Enforcement Specialist. "Another operator on the crew immediately called 911 and DNR resources were on scene in less than 10 minutes."
A thorough investigation has demonstrated that no negligence was involved and there was no intentional setting of fire to the land. The Department in consultation with the Douglas County District Attorney has recommended that no criminal charges be filed.
Officials also lifted the evacuation order and allowed the public to return to their residences. All public roads are now open and power has been restored to the area. Property owners in the area are encouraged call 1-715-376-4185 to find out the status of their homes and property. The hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The number of damaged or destroyed structures has not changed with 77 structures saved and 47 lost including 17 residences. There are no reported injuries.
Cooler temperatures, lighter winds and precipitation expected over the weekend. DNR fire control officials note that this will greatly assist in the mop-up operations and keep the hot spots under control in the coming days.
Gov. Scott Walker and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp are expected to arrive at the command post at the Gordon Town Hall today and are planning to take a tour of the fire area and visit with locals devastated by the incident. The governor has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency in response to the forest fire.
All DNR burning permits continue to be suspended today and the public is encouraged to check with local fire officials for any additional restrictions that may be in place. Winds are expected to be lighter today, however the warmer temperatures and relative humidity continue to push the fire danger into the high and very high category.
For continued updates related to the Germann Road Fire, visit the DNR website dnr.wi.gov, enter keyword "Germann Road Fire." For the most current fire danger and any burning permit restrictions, Click Here.