DOUGLAS COUNTY, WI (WREX) — Over a hundred municipal firefighters joined wildfire crews Tuesday night to battle a fire covering 8,700 acres of forest in Wisconsin's Douglas and Bayfield counties.
No injuries have been reported and crews are still fighting to contain the largest forest fire northern Wisconsin has seen in over 30 years.
"With wind out of the northwest, our concern has been the southern and eastern flanks of the fire," Department of Natural Resources Incident Commander Larry Gladowski said. "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 of Loon Lake, Sand Lake, Murray Lake, Potowatomi Estates, Rock Lake, Beauregard Lake, Catherine Lake, Ellison Lake, and the Village of Barnes have been evacuated. As of 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, 59 evacuees were registered and 22 stayed at a local evacuation center overnight. Those evacuated will not be able to check on their homes on Wednesday.
Once it is contained, it will take crews several additional days to suppress hot spots. So far, 47 structures have been lost, including 17 homes, 15 garages, nine out buildings, and six unknown structures. Seventy-seven structures, including 42 homes, have been saved.
The DNR and the U.S. Forest Service were assisted by 19 fire departments overnight, with 52 active fire trucks. On Wednesday, two 415 water bombers from Ontario and two Blackhawk helicopters from the Wisconsin National Guard will join the battle.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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