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UPDATE: Damage from large wildfire estimated at $1 million

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 --- 7:03 p.m.

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin logging company is disputing Department of Natural Resources' statements about how workers responded to a wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin this spring.

Ray Duerr Logging said Thursday it acted quickly to put out the fire in May, but there was no time to use a pressurized water system on the cutting machine before the fire flew into the treetops.

The fire was sparked when debris from the tree-cutting machine ignited in the machine's circulating blade, setting the dry ground ablaze.

The DNR plans to bill Duerr more than $600,000 for the cost of fighting the fire.

DNR spokesman Bill Cosh says the agency stands behind its investigation and news release.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, September 12, 2013 --- 8:35 a.m.

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) -- The timber company that owns most of the Douglas County land that burned in one of Wisconsin's largest forest fires says damage will exceed $1 million.

Lyme St. Croix Timber Co., executive Sean Ross says the fire damaged most of its 5,200 acres. He tells the Journal Sentinel the timber land was not insured for fire damage.

The massive blaze last May consumed about 7,400 acres, destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate.

The state Department of Natural Resources has billed the logging company that started the fire more than $600,000. The DNR announced shortly after the fire was contained that a logging crew's cutting machine sparked the blaze.

The DNR concluded the logging company, Rib Lake-based Ray Duerr Logging, didn't properly maintain its equipment.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, September 9, 2013 --- 3:27 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will bill a logging company more than $600,000 for starting a massive wildlife.

The blaze broke out in May in Douglas County. Shortly after firefighters contained the fire the DNR released a statement saying a logging crew started the fire. Prosecutors said there was no criminal intent.

The DNR released a statement on Monday, though, saying the crew had a fire suppression mechanism on their equipment that wasn't properly maintained and hadn't been tested.

DNR officials say the crew's company, Ray Duerr Logging, was negligent and should cover the cost of extinguishing the blaze, estimated at about $633,000.

A message left at a listing for the company wasn't immediately returned.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, May 16, 2013 --- 4:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Investigators say a large wildfire caused by logging operations in northwestern Wisconsin wasn't intentionally set and criminal charges aren't expected.

The Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that negligence wasn't involved in the blaze, which destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate before it was contained Wednesday night.

The DNR says a logging equipment operator noticed smoke coming from the equipment while harvesting timber Tuesday afternoon. The operator unsuccessfully tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher while another operator called 911.

No injuries have been reported from the fire, which charred more than 8,000 acres.

The fire started near Simms Lake in Douglas County, 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn.

The DNR says Douglas County prosecutors don't plan to file any criminal charges.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, May 16, 2013 --- 2:15 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities say logging operations started a massive wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin that destroyed more than a dozen homes.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that law enforcement officials confirmed logging equipment started the fire.

The fire began Tuesday afternoon. It destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate as the blaze burned across 9,000 acres. But no injuries have been reported.

The blaze began Tuesday afternoon near Simms Lake in Douglas County, 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn. Authorities say firefighters had the fire contained by late Wednesday evening.

The DNR made the announcement on its official Twitter feed. An agency spokesman declined immediate comment.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATE: Thursday May 16, 2013 -- 8:03 a.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Firefighters battling a 9,000-acre in northwestern Wisconsin have contained the massive blaze.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Robert Manwell said Thursday the fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties is 100 percent contained. Manwell says fire crews will be handling small brush fires and reworking the lines that contain the wildfire.

Authorities opened all roads in the area overnight and some residents headed back to their homes. The fire, which began Tuesday, destroyed 17 homes and 30 other structures. The DNR says no one has been hurt in the largest forest fire to hit northern Wisconsin in 33 years.

Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in Douglas and Bayfield counties, which makes the Wisconsin National Guard available for recovery efforts. The governor plans to tour the area Thursday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATE: Thursday May 16, 2013 -- 5:38a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker will tour damage from a massive wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin on Thursday.

The wildfire has burned about 9,000 acres in Douglas and Bayfield counties and damaged 47 structures, including 17 homes. No injuries have been reported.

Walker is expected to speak to reporters after visiting the area with natural resources, emergency management and other officials.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 15, 2013 --- 2:33 p.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Residents and owners of vacation properties in northwestern Wisconsin will eventually be able return to their properties, but only when the area is safe from a wildfire.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Kevin Harter says he and other officials have been inundated with calls from people wondering about the conditions of their houses.

He says people will eventually be escorted back to their properties, but only when the fire is contained and the area is safe. He says they are working on a hotline for people to call about properties.

The wildfire has consumed about 8,700 acres in Douglas and Bayfield County but Harter says firefighters have largely stopped the spread of the fire.

At least 60 people have evacuated their homes and 47 structures were destroyed, including 17 homes.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 15, 2013 --- 1:57 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Department of Natural Resources officials say there could be air quality problems downwind of a northwestern Wisconsin wildfire.

The DNR issued an Air Quality Special Notice on Wednesday.

Agency spokesman Kevin Harter says they haven't had any reports of problems but residents in Bayfield and Douglas counties, where the fire has been burning, or counties directly to the south should be cautious.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon and has destroyed nearly 50 structures and forced dozens from their homes. Firefighters have stopped most of the fire from spreading as of Wednesday afternoon.

The DNR says people should monitor their symptoms and consult a physician if they have concerns about smoke exposure.

Symptoms include irritation of eyes, nose and throat, or breathing discomfort. Smoke can aggravate chronic lung or cardiovascular disease.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 15, 2013 --- 11:31 a.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- A wildfire that has burned more than 8,700 acres in northwestern Wisconsin started in an area where workers were doing logging operations.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ed Culhane says officials are investigating whether a spark from a piece of logging equipment started the fire around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Douglas County.

Firefighters worked throughout the night to contain the smoky wildfire that has destroyed nearly 50 structures and forced dozens from their homes in Douglas and Bayfield counties. They had it about 90 percent contained Wednesday morning, meaning firefighters have stopped most of the fire from spreading.

Culhane said Wednesday morning it could still be days before they get the fire completely put out. No injuries have been reported.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 15, 2013 --- 10:51 a.m.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are dealing with wildfires and the American Red Cross says it is helping out victims.

Multiple wildfires are burning in northwestern Minnesota and the Red Cross is providing staff and supplies to two shelters in Wadena and Hubbard counties.

On the Wisconsin side, a wildfire has consumed about 8,700 acres in Douglas and Bayfield County but is about 90 percent contained.

A Red Cross emergency response vehicle is going to western Wisconsin to help provide water and snacks and other relief.

The Minnesota Red Cross is also helping with Wisconsin shelters along with the Red Cross' Western Wisconsin Region.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATE: Wednesday May 15, 2013 -- 7:59 a.m

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Firefighters worked to contain a smoky wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin that has consumed 8,700 acres, destroyed nearly 50 structures and forced dozens from their homes.

The Department of Natural Resources says the wildfire is about 90 percent contained, meaning firefighters have stopped most of the fire from spreading.

DNR spokesman Kevin Harter says while 47 structures were lost, including 17 homes, firefighters were able to save 77 additional structures. He says there have been no injuries to either firefighters or residents of the affected area.

Harter says 60 evacuees registered at Drummond High School and 22 stayed overnight.

DNR officials say the wildfire was first reported near the Town of Barnes Tuesday. Conservation wardens went door-to-door in the area to alert homeowners of the fire danger.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED: Wednesday May 15, 2013 -- 7:52 a.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- A smoky wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin spreading to 6,800 acres has destroyed at least 50 structures and forced dozens of residents to leave their homes.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the fire in Douglas County is about 80 percent contained Wednesday morning, but changing weather conditions could refuel the massive blaze. The fire is roughly six miles long and about a mile wide.

DNR officials say the wildfire was first reported near the Town of Barnes Tuesday. Conservation wardens went door-to-door in the area to alert homeowners of the fire danger. About 40 evacuees spent the night at Drummond High School.

Members of 17 local, state and federal firefighting crews worked through the night to contain the fire, fueled by pine and mixed hardwoods.

Copyright 2013 : Associated Press

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Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 -- 11:27 p.m.

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Crews from Wisconsin and Minnesota are rushing into northwestern Wisconsin to try to control a wildfire that prompted evacuations in the sparsely populated area.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports several structures have been destroyed. No injuries are reported.

Residents are being evacuated from lake homes and cabins in the Rock Lake, Loon Lake, Murray Lake and Beauregard Lake areas. DNR spokesman Bill Cosh says 150 people from the Potawatomi Village are being evacuated.

Cosh says the fire has jumped state Highway 27. The fire covers 5.5 square miles.

Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kesler tells the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/16dcF8f ) that the fire was moving into Bayfield County.

Air tankers and scoop planes from both Wisconsin and Minnesota are being used to drop water on the fire.

Copyright: Associated Press 2013


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