Wisconsin declares state of emergency in response to wildfires

Gov. Tony Evers made the announcement Monday.
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Stock image of a grass fire.

Wisconsin has declared a state of emergency as it deals with the outbreak of numerous wildfires and continues to see an elevated fire risk across the state during dry conditions.

As of 8 p.m. Sunday, the Wisconsin DNR said it had received reports of 41 separate wildfires that have between them burned 491 acres of land that day alone.

What's more, the office of Gov. Tony Evers says the state has seen 322 wildfires in the whole of 2021, burning more than 1,500 acres of land. This is more than the land burned in wildfires in the entirety of 2020.

The state of emergency has been declared, Evers says, to ensure the DNR has "all available resources ready to be quickly dispatched."

Among other things, the order will allow the state to "rapidly mobilize" the Army National Guard's Blackhawk helicopters to assist with aerial fire suppression during the spring fire season, which typically lasts through May.

It will also direct state agencies to help with wildfire prevention, response, and recovery efforts.

"With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” Evers said.

"The ability of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to have all available resources ready to be quickly dispatched is a critical element in keeping fires small and achieving swift containment."

Minnesota has been dealing with its own wildfire problems this spring, with a huge one in northwestern Minnesota burning more than 13,000 acres last week.

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