TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. - Fire crews in northwestern Wisconsin are regrouping Wednesday morning, hoping to hold a wildfire that has consumed 8,700 acres and burned nearly 50 homes, cabins and garages at bay.
Kevin Harter of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the fire in Douglas County is about 85 percent contained Wednesday morning, but changing weather conditions could refuel the massive blaze in an instant. "Conditions are prime for a fire," Harter told KARE 11 Sunrise, describing his anticipation of a dry, hot and windy day.
No injuries were reported Wednesday morning as firefighters entered their second day battling the largest forest fire to hit northern Wisconsin in 33 years.
"With wind out of the northwest, our concern has been the southern and eastern flanks of the fire," said DNR incident commander Larry Gladowski. "We should have control shortly. It was 90 percent contained at 7 a.m. Now with hot, dry and windy conditions forecast for today, we are asking people to be extremely careful so no more destructive fires are started."
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.
Fire crews believed they had the blaze contained Tuesday evening but winds shifted and doubled back, causing firefighters to evacuate. The base of firefighting operations have been moved from Barnes west to the town of Gordon.
Members of 17 local, state and federal firefighting crews worked through the night to contain the fire, fueled by pine and mixed hardwoods. Harter described some successes as well, telling Sunrise anchors Kim Insley and Tim McNiff that fire crews saved nearly 80 buildings that were threatened by flames.
Harter says Blackhawk helicopters with water bags and at least two additional scoop planes will arrive Wednesday for deployment against the wildlfire. There are currently 52 fire trucks active.
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