Spring Yard Cleanup – Safety First! |

“Do you not like the weather? Wait five minutes. ” A saying that is true in Wisconsin in the spring. While March marks the beginning of the spring fire season for us, it can be interrupted by rainfall and snowstorms. Wet weather gives firefighters a chance to recharge and can be an opportunity for people to burn garden waste while being safer to do so.

The garden around your home can currently be filled with a variety of fallen leaves, pine needles and branches. Recent ice storms in northern Wisconsin have significantly contributed to the volume of debris around our homes. If the recent widespread ice storms have damaged the trees on your property, take time to evaluate the damage and realistically determine if you can handle the cleanup yourself or if it’s time to call in professionals. Look out for damaged branches and bent trees that may fall. Prioritize your physical safety before embarking on any cleaning activities.

Recent ice storms have knocked down many branches

Many places in Wisconsin have experienced damage to trees due to recent ice storms.

You may be wondering now what to do with all this debris left over after winter and those recent ice storms. Some communities have brush collection services or a site where you can drop off leaves, pine needles and branches. Maybe there is enough rubbish on your property to justify hiring a brush cutter. Or, if your property is large enough, creating a brush stack away from buildings can serve as a shelter for wildlife. Larger pieces of hardwood can be cut for future use as firewood or campfires. If none of these alternatives work for your situation and your community makes it possible to burn the material, timing your fire around periods of wet weather may be the safer choice.

Before lighting that match, you must take the following precautions:

– First look for fire restrictions and permit requirements. You can find this information on the DNR Fire Restrictions website or by calling your nearest DNR office or fire department. – Check the weather forecast. Slow down the fire if dry or windy weather is forecast. Be aware of your country’s fire hazard forecast by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN or searching for “fire” on the DNR website.
– Keep your heaps small, with the area around the heap cleared of any flammable vegetation.
– Have an attached hose or other water source on hand.
– Stay by the fire until you have completed the fire. Make sure it is out before you leave by covering the shaft with water and mixing it in. Then, just to be safe, add more water. If any unburned branches or larger pieces of wood remain unburned, check back regularly to make sure this material has not caught fire again.

Winter burns when the ground is completely covered with snow

Taking advantage of wet weather to burn debris is a safer option.

In Wisconsin, the spring fire season typically lasts from snowmelt to “green” (when the grasses are green and leaves are budding again). Many parts of our state are still experiencing drought conditions, even from winter. Firefighters will suspend outside fires as needed when fire hazard conditions are increased.

For more information, contact Catherine Koele, Fire Prevention Specialist, or Jolene Ackerman, Wildland Urban Interface Specialist.

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