Winter may seem like a completely safe time to burn, but it is important to practice fire safety throughout the year to prevent wildfires. When the ground is completely covered with snow, fire is allowed in DNR protection areas without a DNR fire permit for debris. Once the snow melts, DNR fire permits are required again. Always check with local firefighters before any fire, especially in the spring.
Snow amounts vary across the landscape this time of year. The southern half of the state tends to have little to no snow, while the north looks like a winter wonderland. Just when you think winter is coming to an end, there’s that one lingering blizzard to make everything white again. Suddenly spring is finally here to stay, and it’s fire season!
Here are some tips for safe winter fires when the ground is snow-covered:
Collect and stack brush in an open area away from overhanging branches.
• If snow is forecast, place a tarp over the brush stack to keep it dry and time the fire so that the snow around the mound keeps the fire under control.
• When you are ready to burn, choose a calm day (less than 8 mph) with full snow cover on the ground.
• Snow should be next to the fire and stay there for the duration of the fire.
• Notify the local fire department and shipping offices to avoid unnecessary fire reaction.
• Place small amounts of crumpled clean paper in the brush around the base of the heap.
• Align the paper right around the base of the stack. Do not use fire to dispose of household waste, rubber tires, oil or other accelerators.
Use a rake or shovel and turn the debris into the flames to ensure that all the material is consumed.
• Avoid standing in direct contact or against the wind of smoke and never leave the fire unattended.
Remember, spring is the highlight of Wisconsin’s fire season. So plan ahead and do not wait until then to burn debris. Better yet, consider alternatives to incineration; compost, chip, loose brush for wildlife habitat or tow away to a transfer site. To obtain a free DNR fire permit or for more fire safety tips, visit this DNR website.
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