Thread: Wisconsin 2005

  1. #1
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    Post Wisconsin 2005

    BIG FLATS, Wis. (AP) - More than 250 firefighters and four air
    planes battled a forest fire that engulfed 3,900 acres of pines and
    homes in central Wisconsin Thursday, causing at least 96 people to
    be evacuated, officials said.
    No one was injured, although one firefighter had to take a break
    after he became dehydrated, said Jennifer Rabuck, fire information
    officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    About 120 buildings, including homes, mobile homes, barns and
    sheds, were within the 10 mile by 10 mile area that was evacuated
    along Highway 13 in Big Flats and Colburn in Adams County, Rabuck
    said.
    Fire officials were concentrating on containing and
    extinguishing the mile-wide fire and weren't sure how many
    buildings were affected, she said. There were several subdivisions
    that were burned, Rabuck said, but she wasn't sure to what extent.
    They planned to survey the area upon daybreak Friday and
    anticipated massive damage, she said. Fire officials also planned
    to scale back the evacuation area by two miles by Friday morning,
    she said.
    Firefighters had about 50 percent of the fire contained by late
    Thursday, Rabuck said.
    At least 96 residents from the evacuated area attended a meeting
    at the Pine Land Elementary School in rural Adams County Thursday
    night, she said. She said five families planned to sleep at the
    school and the others were staying with friends, family or at
    hotels, Rabuck said.
    Fire officials planned to work through the night to take
    advantage of cooler temperatures, she said.
    Someone reported a small brush fire at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday
    in Big Flats and it quickly escalated, she said.
    Four planes, two from Wisconsin and two from Minnesota, were
    dropping water all day until sunset to try to confine the fire,
    Rabuck said.
    Twenty area fire departments and 250 firefighters with 60 pieces
    of equipment were helping, she said.
    Many of the trees are used in pulpwood manufacturing and some
    were 20 to 25 feet high, Rabuck said.
    Rabuck said they did not know the fire's cause Thursday evening.
    Bob Manwell, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural
    Resources, said the agency dispatched 30 bulldozer units with plows
    that cut a swath through the flames to keep the fire from
    advancing.
    Deb Rogers said she and her husband, Bob, were forced to
    evacuate their Big Flats home at about 2:30 p.m. as the flames came
    up behind the home. Reached at a relative's house, she said "the
    toughest part is not knowing what's going on with my home." She
    hoped to get back to her house by morning.
    "At first, I thought it was just a big rain cloud," Rogers
    said. "It didnt look like smoke. It was just a thick cloud."
    She said they were given about an hour to leave their home. They
    grabbed some clothes, her purse and two dogs.
    Primo Clementi, 57 and his wife, Lorraine were also evacuated
    from their Big Flats home along with their daughter, Lisa Clementi,
    37, and granddaughter, Echo Hoffman, 19.
    "Our house most likely went up," said Hoffman, who is pregnant
    and due in December.
    She was worried she would lose all of her new baby items. The
    family also had to leave behind a dog and cat and all other
    valuables.
    She and her mother and grandmother saw the smoke when they were
    driving home from a doctor's appointment in Wisconsin Rapids.
    Lorraine Clementi said she thought, "Oh, my God, no."
    "We don't have insurance, and that's what made my heart sink,"
    she said. "And then we stopped and prayed at the side of the road,
    and I know my house is protected."
    Jim Gobel, who has been a forestry technician for the state DNR
    for 16 years, said a fire of this magnitude is rare in Wisconsin.
    "Wisconsin hasnt had a really big, huge fire like this in 25
    years," he said. "This is a significant fire."
    Gobel said fires such as this get into the crowns of the trees,
    and when that happens it's nearly impossible to stop.
    Gobel said sandy soil, gusty winds and conifer pine trees create
    a high fire risk.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    I was supprised it happened this late in the year. It has been quit for use the last few weeks and thing are greening up nicely. 4,250 acres enovoled and aprox. 130 structures in the black was posted at the command post when we were released at 10:30pm. The number of structures lost was not know at that time.

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    Post Making a safer campfire site

    By ROBERT IMRIE
    Associated Press Writer
    A man from southeastern Wisconsin who started the largest
    wildfire in the state in 25 years had just moved onto his new
    vacation property and was cleaning it up when he decided to burn
    some grass to make an area safer for a campfire ring, authorities
    said Monday.
    "My understanding is that this was not some sort of malicious
    act or intentional. This was a tragedy is what this was," Adams
    County District Attorney Mark Thibodeau said.
    The prosecutor said he expected to receive investigative reports
    later this week that he will review before deciding whether to file
    criminal charges in the fire, which burned about 3,900 acres of
    pine forest and destroyed several homes in central Wisconsin near
    Big Flats.
    "No one has been taken into custody. That is not going to
    happen," Thibodeau said in a telephone interview from the county
    courthouse in Friendship.
    The man, whose name was not released, and his wife had moved a
    trailer home onto their newly purchased land last Tuesday or
    Wednesday. They intended to turn the property into a vacation spot,
    said Rick Bucklew, a law enforcement specialist for state
    Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry.
    The couple were thrilled to have the property but were novices
    about fires in grass and woods, Bucklew said.
    "This was all new to him," Bucklew said. "I would say that
    after talking to the individual, he was very remorseful. He made a
    mistake."
    The fire, whipped by winds gusting to 20 mph and fueled by dry
    conditions, erupted Thursday afternoon and destroyed 13 permanent
    homes worth nearly $700,000 and dozens of other structures,
    including 17 seasonal homes, according to the DNR.
    The fire displaced about 40 people. Some 300 structures within
    the burned area - which measured about seven square miles - were
    not damaged.
    The landowner who started the fire had a DNR permit that
    authorized burning debris and brush from 6 p.m. to midnight that
    day, said Steve Courtney, the DNR's area forestry supervisor. The
    burning permit was good at night when the winds aren't as strong,
    the temperature is cooler and the humidity goes up, making
    conditions safer.
    According to Bucklew, the man set the fire to make the area safe
    for a nighttime campfire in a new fire ring. The fire quickly got
    out of control, and the couple did not have a fire extinguisher.
    "There are people all over this state who have done almost a
    similar thing and simply been more fortunate," Bucklew said.
    The fire caused some damage to the couple's trailer and some
    losses on their land, Bucklew said. The couple tried diligently to
    put out the fire, said Bucklew, but he would not disclose by what
    means.
    Under Wisconsin law, someone who starts a negligent or careless
    fire can be held liable for property damage and firefighting costs,
    Thibodeau and Courtney said.
    The fire destroyed Harold Krause's shed, where he kept an ATV,
    riding lawnmower and snow blower, but his home survived.
    "People should know better when it is this hot and dry," he
    said. "There is so much dead stuff in these woods."
    Krause, 84, said Monday he hasn't tallied what the fire cost him
    in losses, but he has insurance and adjusters were scheduled to
    come to his home Tuesday.
    The DNR had not tabulated all the firefighting costs, but they
    include $5,500 an hour in charges for each of two airplane tankers
    from Minnesota, Courtney said.
    "There was a huge number of agencies that were involved," he
    said.
    DNR spokesman David Weitz said last week the total loss and cost
    of the fire will reach the millions of dollars.
    The fire imperiled buildings almost immediately after getting
    out of control and into a highly flammable pine plantation,
    Courtney said.
    The wildfire was the largest since about 5,000 acres burned in
    Burnett and Washburn counties in 1980, he said.
    According to Courtney, the risk of property damage from
    wildfires is increasing in Wisconsin because more people are
    putting permanent and recreational structures in forests and not
    doing enough to fireproof them, such as cutting down all trees a
    minimum of 30 feet away from buildings, and creating a firebreak,
    such as a lush green lawn.
    Courtney said there are about 500,000 acres of pine forests in
    western and central Wisconsin that are at high risk of fires
    similar to the one near Big Flats.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:
    http://www.dnr.state.wi.us
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    FRIENDSHIP, Wis. (AP) - A man believed to have accidentally
    started Wisconsin's worst wildfire in 25 years when he tried to
    burn brush on his property last week will be charged in the
    incident, a prosecutor says.
    Personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources met
    Wednesday with Adams County District Attorney Mark Thibodeau.
    "I was briefed by DNR officials, and I do anticipate a charge
    of setting a fire and allowing it to escape," Thibodeau said.
    He said the 54-year-old man, whose name was not released, is
    from the southeastern part of the state.
    Authorities said earlier that the man had just purchased the
    vacation property in the Big Flats area and was cleaning it up last
    Thursday when he decided to burn some grass to make an area safer
    for a campfire ring.
    With tinder dry conditions and high winds, the fire burned about
    3,900 acres of pine forest, destroying 13 permanent homes and 17
    seasonal homes and displacing about 40 people.
    The DNR has said the man who started the fire had a permit
    allowing the burning of debris and brush that day from 6 p.m. to
    midnight, when conditions would have been safer, but the fire was
    started in the afternoon and got out of control.
    Thibodeau said DNR officials still had to do follow-up
    interviews and estimate how much it cost to stop the blaze. He said
    he hopes to have final reports form the DNR and file charges by
    early next week.
    ---
    Information from: Daily Tribune,
    http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post Update

    FRIENDSHIP, Wis. (AP) - A 54-year-old Racine man accused
    Thursday of starting the state's largest wildfire in 25 years told
    investigators he lit some dry grass inside a ring of concrete
    blocks and the fire jumped out of the ring, a criminal complaint
    said.
    Thomas Barnhart told investigators he and his girlfriend tried
    to put out the blaze with a shovel, rake and clothing, according to
    the complaint filed in Adams County Circuit Court.
    "In a very few minutes, the fire was out of control in spite of
    suppression efforts," Barnhart said in a statement.
    Barnhart was charged Thursday with one misdemeanor count of
    starting a fire and allowing it to escape and become a forest fire.
    He is to appear in court July 11.
    The blaze, whipped by winds gusting to 20 mph and fueled by dry
    conditions, burned about 3,410 acres of pine forest May 5 near Big
    Flats in central Wisconsin, the complaint said. No one was
    seriously hurt.
    The afternoon fire destroyed nine permanent homes, 21 seasonal
    homes and about 60 other buildings, from garden sheds to two-car
    garages, the complaint said. The fire displaced about 40 people.
    According to the complaint, when the fire escaped the fire ring
    and grew to the size of a pickup truck, Barnhart and his
    girlfriend, Dorothy Clark, 56, tried to call 911 on a cell phone,
    but there was no coverage so Clark drove to a neighbor and had him
    summon firefighters.
    The couple had a permit from the state Department of Natural
    Resources to burn that day but only between the hours of 6 p.m. and
    midnight, the complaint said.
    Barnhart told investigators he started the fire inside the ring
    to burn off the dead, six- to eight-inch tall grass "to create a
    spot to safely burn campfires and brush," the complaint said.
    Barnhart said he and Clark bought the property as a vacation
    spot on May 2 and moved a trailer onto it May 4.
    "Barnhart and Clark indicated that they had been clearing the
    property and burning brush and specifically stated that they had
    burned brush the day before (May 4)," the complaint said.
    "Barnhart indicated he was not aware of any hours of restriction
    on burning with the permit."
    The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum $1,000 fine and 90 days
    in jail. But under Wisconsin law, Barnhart also could have to pay
    the costs of fighting the fire and for the damages to private
    property, Adams County District Attorney Mark Thibodeau said.
    Steve Courtney, the DNR's area forestry supervisor, said the
    costs for fighting the fire are still being tallied, but he
    predicted the total firefighting bill and property loss would
    likely exceed $1 million.
    "Mr. Barnhart has been very cooperative," Thibodeau said
    Thursday. "Restitution will be discussed in this case."
    Barnhart and Clark did not immediately return a telephone
    message left at their home in Racine.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Default August 15th

    Man pleads not guilty in largest state forest fire in 25 years
    fonesrwirn
    FRIENDSHIP, Wis. (AP) - A 54-year-old Racine man pleaded not
    guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge accusing him of starting the
    state's largest wildfire in 25 years.
    Thomas Barnhart appeared before Adams County Circuit Judge
    Charles Pollex on one misdemeanor count of starting a fire and
    allowing it to escape and become a forest fire.
    Barnhart asked for a substitute judge, which he is entitled to
    under law, and until one is appointment, no new court date will be
    set.
    The maximum punishment for the misdemeanor is 90 days in jail
    and a $1,000 fine. Barnhart also could have to pay the costs of
    fighting the fire and for the damages to private property, which
    are expected to exceed $1 million, authorities have said.
    The May 5 blaze, whipped by winds gusting to 20 mph and fueled
    by dry conditions, burned about 3,410 acres of pine forest near Big
    Flats, according to the criminal complaint.
    The afternoon fire destroyed nine permanent homes, 21 seasonal
    homes and about 60 other buildings, from garden sheds to two-car
    garages, the complaint said. The fire displaced about 40 people. No
    one was seriously hurt.
    Barnhart told investigators he lit some dry grass inside a ring
    of concrete blocks and the fire jumped out of the ring.
    He said he and his girlfriend, Dorothy Clark, 56, tried to put
    out the blaze with a shovel, rake and clothing but "in a very few
    minutes, the fire was out of control."
    Barnhart said he and Clark bought their property as a vacation
    spot on May 2, moved a trailer onto it May 4 and started the fire
    inside the ring on May 5 to burn off the dead, six- to eight-inch
    tall grass "to create a spot to safely burn campfires and brush,"
    according to the complaint.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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