Wisconsin: Germann Road Fire destroys 17 homes

Germann Road Fire
Germann Road Fire, May 14, 2013. Wisc. DNR photo by Phil Miller (click to enlarge)

(UPDATE at 3:44 p.m. CT, May 16, 2013; updated acreage and evacuation information)

The Wisconsin DNR reported Thursday morning the fire was declared 100 percent contained at 9 p.m. on May 15 and all public roads are open. The size of the burned area was adjusted downward to 8,495 acres (and was reduced again to 8,131 acres). All fire lines have been secured and crews are moving into mop-up phase.

Officials have lifted the evacuation order. The public is allowed to return to their residences.

Law enforcement officials confirmed this morning that the fire was caused by logging equipment in use on industrial lands.


(Originally published at 11:09 a.m. CT, May 15, 2013) 

The Germann Road Fire in northern Wisconsin 60 miles southeast of Duluth, Minnesota raced across 9,026 acres of pine and mixed hardwoods Tuesday. The Wisconsin DNR reports 42 homes have been saved but 17 were destroyed in the fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties. At least 19 fire departments — local, state, and federal — worked the fire overnight. No firefighters were released until 3 a.m. Wednesday. (The DNR posted a map HERE.)

Between the time the fire started at 4 p.m. Tuesday and midnight, the wind blew from the south and then west at 7 to 14 mph with gusts up to 31. The relative humidity at the nearby St. Croix weather station reached a low of 11 percent at 7:15 p.m — very low for Wisconsin. At 5:15 p.m. the temperature was 92 degrees. By early Wednesday morning the weather moderated, with the relative humidity reaching 87 percent and much calmer winds.

At 7 a.m. Incident Commander Larry Gladowski said the fire was 90 percent contained, with full control expected soon. He met with evacuees Wednesday morning, telling them it was not possible to check their properties today due to the fire conditions.

More aviation resources will be available Wednesday, including two air tankers from Ontario and two Wisconsin National Guard Blackhawk helicopters with water buckets.

We believe all of these incredible photos, including the three below, were taken by Wisconsin DNR pilot Phil Miller on Tuesday. Click on them to see larger versions.

Germann Road Fire Germann Road Fire Germann Road Fire


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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