There’s been more than 620 fires recorded in Wisconsin so far this year. More than 1,700 acres have burned.

For comparison, in the same time frame last year there were 368 fires and less than a third as many acres burned.

John A. Jorgensen is the aeronautics team leader for the DNR. He said it’s not necessarily the number of fires that makes this fire season unique, but the length of the season and how widespread fire risk is.

“It’s been long and it’s been particularly dry. The last two or three years were pretty wet, but this year we haven’t had that much rain and particularly now we find ourselves very, very dry across the whole northern tier of the state,” said Jorgensen.

Jorgensen spent the weekend in Solon Springs coordinating air response to fires.

Typically, the DNR uses its aircraft in a detection role.

“We have predetermined fire routes, the airplanes fly around the areas that they’re patrolling in. When they find a fire they call that into dispatch or dispatch calls it into us if they learn about it in a different way. We go over the top in our single engine Cessna airplanes and size up the fires,” he said.

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