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Officials prepare for early fire season in the Northland

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MINNESOTA, WISCONSIN -- Wind and dry conditions make a recipe for fire danger.

The Wisconsin DNR suspended burning permits Friday for all 43 counties under their authority.

That includes all of northern Wisconsin.

Minnesota issued a Red Flag Warning in effect until 8 p.m. Friday.

With this year's early spring, the Northland is now in fire season, which is two to four weeks earlier than normal.

"98% of our fires in Wisconsin are caused by people," DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele said. "In the last week, we've had 55 fires burning over 200 acres."

The Wisconsin DNR said fires are often caused by burning debris, equipment sparks, and campfires.

"We ask people not to burn their debris piles and their burn barrels especially today and moving into the holiday weekend," DNR Fire Suppression Specialist Eric Martin said.

To prepare for the worst, the Wisconsin DNR has emergency engines, tractor plows, and all of their staff on call.

They are particularly concerned about the next five to 10 days.

"Looking into the weekend, we're looking at kind of some warm fronts moving through and warm temperatures and lower relative humidity, so those grass fuels will be a concern to us across the state," Martin said.

Wildfire Operations Supervisor for the Minnesota DNR Division of Forestry William Glesener said burning outside is not only risky but in some cases illegal.

"Most folks need to be aware that fire outside is a really risky event, and they shouldn't be doing it on days like today," Glesener said.

If a fire does happen, experts say do not try to put it out by yourself.

"If you see a fire call 911 because we definitely need to get on top of them sooner rather than later," Glesener said.

Fire season typically runs until May or June, so officials are bracing for a long road ahead.

While campfires are technically exempt from Wisconsin's burning ban, the DNR said to check with local fire officials, get proper permits, and know what the wind conditions are like before you burn.

Click here for more information about fire safety and bans in Wisconsin.

Click here for more information about fire safety in Minnesota.

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Kendall Jarboe

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