DNR: Keep fireworks out of parks, forests

DNR imposes burning restrictions in 11 counties
DNR: Keep fireworks out of parks, forests

The state Department of Natural Resources is warning people to keep fireworks out of state parks and forests.

Wisconsin State Parks Program Chief Ranger Jason Fritz said fireworks are illegal in the parks and forests and rangers will strictly enforce the ban. Citations can run up to $200 and parents can be held liable for any fires their children start with fireworks.

Fritz said sparklers are allowed in parks and forests, but rangers would rather not see them because they’re fire hazards.

The DNR has been monitoring dry conditions across southern Wisconsin. The agency has imposed burning restrictions in 11 counties.

Barring rain ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, wildfire risk in southern Wisconsin is expected to remain high.

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This warning from the DNR comes after a number of burn bans were recently issued in order to hopefully prevent accidental fires.

So far the heat and dry weather is leaving 11 counties in southern Wisconsin with heavy burning restrictions.

The issue now becomes how punishments will be enforced.

Law enforcement officials said they’re leaning toward the motto “neighbors helping neighbors.”

Neighbors like Dan Kolberg, who spent some of a family camping trip to Devil’s Lake fizzling out flames.

“Well, we’ve been real careful about the use of grills,” said Kolberg. “We’ve tried to keep them (flames) smaller to try not to have anything spark or blow out of the pit.”

The Stoughton native said the recent burn ban has park officials limiting the number of flames he can and will try to ignite.

“They’ve cautioned everybody on anything that might involve sparks or flames,” Kolberg said.

With this burn ban the DNR said all bonfires are banned unless they’re in metal containers. But they some state parks are banning fires all together.

Catherine Koele at the DNR is enforcing burn bans in 11 counties in southern Wisconsin.

She said people need to police themselves.

“No campfires, no debris burning, no fireworks use, even smoking in the outdoors,” said Koele of the harsh restrictions.

“Obviously we can’t have patrols everywhere,” Koele continued, “but if law enforcement does find people are doing these activities in the outdoors, citations will be given.”

Baraboo fire chief Kevin Stieve said if anyone sees something, they should say something.

“There’s always potential for disaster to happen, so if somebody sees somebody burning they should call local law enforcement or the fire department,” said Stieve.

Kolberg said there may not be constant policing at Devil’s Lake, but he knows burning a fire could burn him in the end.

“Well, we’re relaxing a lot more,” said Kolberg. “Shade is a lot more appealing.”

Koele said this June was the driest in the history books.

And with the Fourth of July coming up, she is warning people to be smart and to not launch fireworks without a permit.

She said that in the month of June, only four fires were started by fireworks, a fairly small number, considering the conditions and the potential for greater harm.

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