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Madison bars outdoor fires amid wildfire concerns

Published On: Apr 09 2012 10:04:30 AM CDT   Updated On: Apr 10 2012 09:36:13 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Dry weather conditions and heavy winds have the National Weather Service putting southern Wisconsin, including Dane County, on fire weather watch Monday.

The Madison Fire Department is warning that there is a high risk of brush fires starting due to the weather conditions. The Madison Fire Department is prohibiting the use of outdoor fires in the city "until weather conditions change."

"Right now, we're putting a stop to that because of the risk," said Bernadette Galvez of the Madison Fire Department, explaining why the city of Madison has banned outdoor burns, except for grilling, because of the increased risk.

Bob Manwell from the Department of Natural Resources said just about everyone is at risk at a statewide level."

Most of Wisconsin right now is in a very high fire danger condition. That means that fires can start very easily, they can move very quickly, and they can burn very hot," Manwell said. "It's only a step away from our extreme condition, in which fires can jump into treetops."

"Even though it looks like it's all green -- the grass is green and all that -- underneath can be very, very dry," Galvez explained.

In Madison, people can be ticketed for the time being for starting an outdoor fire, even if they have a permit. Fire officials said it's just too dangerous and, especially with the wind, the fires are just too hard to fight.

"We are prohibiting it until the weather conditions do get better," Galvez said. "It can spread very quickly, and it's hard to stop.

"Madison fire officials couldn't recall the last time the city issued a burn ban at the state level, officials said it has been years since just about every county was listed as being at "very high risk" for fire.The DNR said people need to know the rules and the conditions before starting any type of outdoor burn. For more information on DNR burning permits and restrictions, go to this website.

Dane County sheriff's deputies and the Mount Horeb Fire Department responded to a structure fire Monday at 2432 State Highway 78 in Blue Mounds. The property owner was tearing down a barn and burning scrap wood Sunday. The fire was still burning the next day, and as the winds increased, the flames grew and a nearby shed fill of hay caught fire, sheriff's officials said. The shed and its contents, worth more than $18,000, were destroyed.

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