DNR: Fire danger "very high" in Rock, Walworth counties
The same dry conditions that have put several counties north of Madison under state-mandated burn bans also exist in Rock and Walworth counties, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources official said.
The DNR put Crawford, Richland, Sauk, Columbia and Green Lake and parts of Iowa, Grant, Adams, Juneau and Dane counties under burn restrictions.
The bans go in effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and remain in place until the area gets significant rain. The bans prohibit all smoking outdoors, all fireworks, and outdoor disposal of ashes, charcoal briquettes, matches or any burning material. Campfires in those counties are allowed only at camping areas within a metal fire ring.
Communities in those counties with scheduled holiday fireworks are not under the order, although several municipalities there already have postponed or scrubbed fireworks displays for the Fourth of July, officials said.
Catherine Koele, a Wisconsin DNR Forest Fire Prevention Specialist, said that the DNR burn bans will not extend into Rock or Walworth counties because the DNR does not have fire jurisdiction there.
DNR fire jurisdiction is based on vegetation, historical fires, fire currents, housing density and existing memorandums of understanding with local fire departments.
Still, Koele said, it’s just as dry and fire hazards are just as high in Rock and Walworth counties as counties where the state has put burn bans in place.
“The fire risk is definitely no different there (in Rock and Walworth counties) than it is here, further north,” Koele said.
The hazards include widespread areas of dry grass and brush. Koele said that the DNR is reaching out to municipalities located south of its fire jurisdiction over the tinder-dry conditions.
“We’re encouraging local municipalities there to consider putting on some restrictions because the fire danger is so high,” Koele said.
Janesville fire officials have no plans to ban consumer fireworks, although fines will be issued for anyone caught using illegal fireworks without a permit, officials said.
However, Beloit has banned consumer fireworks because of dry conditions. And a group of Rock County fire chiefs last Friday put Rock County under an open/controlled burn ban until the area gets significant rain.
Unlike DNR burn bans, the Rock County burn ban is only advisory; it is not enforceable by fire departments in the county.