DNR Official Discusses Forest Fire

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DNR Official Discusses Forest Fire

Premiere Date: 
May 16, 2013

Larry Globoski talks about the response to Germann Road forest fire.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Zac Schultz:

We turn now to the Northwoods, where firefighters are still dealing with the last remnants of the largest wildfire Wisconsin has seen in three decades. The fire is known as the Germann Road fire, and it started Tuesday just south of the Brule River State forest in Douglas County. More than 20 fire departments responded to dig a fire line to contain the fire. Fixed-wing air tankers were called in from Ontario, Canada, along with National Guard helicopters equipped with buckets. The fire eventually spread to cover 8,100 acres, destroying 17 homes or cabins, and 30 other structures. No injuries have been reported. Joining us now on the phone is Larry Glodoski, the DNR's incident commander for this fire. Mr. Glodoski, thanks for joining us.

Larry Glodoski:

You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

Zac Schultz:

Can you give us the latest on where the fire stands right now? We know it's contained, but are there still hot spots you’re dealing with.

Larry Glodoski:

There are hot spots actually, and today turned into a breezy, dry day. There was a good chance of rain today, but that has slid south of us and it's-- up here it's partly sunny, breezy, fairly warm, and there are some hot spots that are kicking up, but they're within the fire perimeter and we have crews on the fire.

Zac Schultz:

Now, the DNR has confirmed the fire was caused by logging activities. Can you give us a better idea of what happened?

Larry Glodoski:

Yes, there was a logging operation on private land. And what we call-- it’s a piece of logging equipment called a processor that cuts down trees and cuts them into lengths that can be hauled on trucks. The operator of that piece of equipment noticed that there was smoke coming out of the-- of his cutting-- the cutting part of the equipment. He backed off of what he was doing, jumped out of his cab, took appropriate suppression action, fire extinguisher. There was a small fire. He thought he had it out. However, with that very dry day that we had that day, the fire had a few embers left in it and rekindled, and began to burn and he just couldn't catch the fire. We've ruled that the fire was accidental, that the operator did everything that he should have done and tried his darnest to get the fire out. He didn't ignore the fire. He didn't run away from the fire, anything like that. He tried to put the fire out and just wasn't successful.

Zac Schultz:

Now, two years ago a number of tornadoes went through this area, knocking down so many trees the governor called in the National Guard to help out. At the time there were concerns if the clean-up wasn't done properly, it could lead to wild fires in the future. Is there any indication that downed trees were a factor in this fire?

Larry Glodoski:

No, and just to correct a little bit of that, the clean-up operation done by the forest products industry was actually very good, and many, many, many thousands of acres of blow-down timber were harvested and utilized by the Forest Products Industry. Logging crews from all over the state mobilized on their own to come up to northwest Wisconsin and get as much of that timber harvested, because the timber industry, the forestry industry, we know that downed timber doesn't last long, and be able to use for very long before it starts to rot, and there is also a large fire hazard. And it was actually a very quick response by the forest products industry. So there is-- it was not near the blow-down area, and there were no blown-down trees within the fire area.  

Zac Schultz:

How concerned are you that there could be more fires in the area given the weather you're dealing with?

Larry Glodoski:

Right now, until we get substantial rain, we do have quite a bit of concern. Even though we really did kind of have a wet, lousy spring up in the Northwoods, and the ice has just gone off the lakes in the last couple weeks, it has quickly dried out and our temperatures have warmed up and sun's been shining and humidity's been low. Typical weather that we have in middle of April is now occurring in the middle of May. And until things green up and we get substantial rain we will be concerned about wildfires.

Zac Schultz:

Wisconsin does not deal with a lot of large wildfires. How would you judge the response to this event?

Larry Glodoski:

Something on the order of phenomenal, with our DNR response, with our equipment, tractor plows, getting on the scene quickly, and then coupling that with the response of the local and surrounding law enforcement agencies. And especially the volunteer fire departments who were out in the heat of the blaze, in front of the fire, trying to save as many structures as they could as the fire-- You know it was a very, hot, fast-moving, crown fire. And the fire departments were out trying to save as many of the homes, garages, outbuildings that they could. Law enforcement agencies were setting up roadblocks and evacuating people. It was a remarkable, excellent team effort by all public volunteer, private, the citizens of the area evacuated very promptly and orderly. There were no injuries or accidents as of this time on this fire.

Zac Schultz:

Well, it sounds like it was an excellent response. We appreciate all the time you've put in, and hopefully you can get home and get some rest. Thank you very much, Mr. Glodoski.

Larry Glodoski:

You're welcome.  


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