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Wisconsin in state of emergency for wildfire risks, over 1,400 acres already burned



Wisconsin is in a state of emergency as of Monday over increased wildfire risk, with more than 300 blazes already reported so far this year.

More than 1,400 acres have been burned in the state so far, with experts expecting a longer than usual fire season due to the early melting of snow, according to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. Incoming weather conditions, such as gusty winds and low humidity levels, are also more conducive to wildfire spread.

“With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” Evers said.

Spring wildfire season in Wisconsin typically runs through the end of May, the governor’s office said.

The executive order signed by Evers on Monday would allow the National Guard to mobilize with the state’s Department of Natural Resources, which handles wildfire response. The department said in a release on Saturday that the majority of counties across the state are under very high risk of fire danger.

A suspension for annual burning permits is in effect, the department said Saturday.

“To help us keep Wisconsinites safe, the DNR is asking you to avoid all outdoor burning including limiting the use of campfires and making sure to extinguish and dispose of cigarettes properly,” the release said. “Outdoor enthusiasts should also use caution with off-road vehicles or equipment that can create a spark and start a fire.”

A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for for comment from NBC News.

Experts told NBC News last week that large swaths of the country are preparing for another potentially dangerous wildfire season.

Last year, millions of acres burned in a record-breaking wildfire season that was primarily focused in the Western half of the country, in states such as California, Washington and Oregon. But this year blazes have already been seen in the Upper Plains, Rockies, Great Lakes and Southwest regions.

Nearly 1,800 firefighters had already mobilized to battle at least 19 different blazes across those regions as of Friday, Stanton Florea, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center previously told NBC News.

While fire experts are not yet panicking, they are still preparing for the worst, said Carrie Bilbao, a spokeswoman with the Bureau of Land Management who also works with the National Interagency Fire Center.

“Fire season can be at any time,” Bilbao said. “We just don’t really have those wet seasons consistently anymore.”

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