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Officials say 8K-acre wildfire cause was accidental

Published On: May 16 2013 02:11:45 PM CDT   Updated On: May 16 2013 04:50:46 PM CDT

Officials said the Germann Road Fire is the largest forest fire in Wisconsin since 1980.

MADISON, Wis. -

Authorities said 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.

In a news release, a Wisconsin DNR forestry law enforcement official said a crew noticed smoke coming from the equipment while harvesting timber Tuesday afternoon and unsuccessfully tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher from an equipment cab. Crews called 911, and responders were on the scene in less than 10 minutes, the DNR said.

The department said the fire was accidental and no charges would be filed.

The fire began Tuesday afternoon. It destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate as the blaze burned across what was originally reporter as 9,000 acres, but officials adjusted the total to 8,131 acres after receiving more detailed mapping of the wildfire. No injuries have been reported in the more than 24-hour fire.

The blaze began Tuesday afternoon near Simms Lake in Douglas County, 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn. Authorities said firefighters had the fire contained by late Wednesday evening, though crews continued to watch hot spots through Thursday.

DNR burning permits continued to be suspended through Thursday, officials said.

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    Photos by Doug Wahl

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