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Forestry specialists to present program about wildfires – La Crosse Tribune

For most Wisconsinites, the arrival of spring is usually welcome change from the cold and snow of winter. However, the lack of a blanket of snow brings a greater chance of brush fires.

Dealing with brush fires, also referred to as wildfires, will be the topic of the March 8 Friends of the Black River meeting. The meeting will be held in the Jackson County Bank beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forestry team leader Eric Zenz and forestry specialist Amy Luebke will present a program related to wildfire risk in the Black River Falls area. Their program will also include an overview of the 1977 Brockway Fire.

Zenz, a 15-year veteran of the DNR’s forestry program, works out of the Black River Falls Service Center. Luebke has been with the agency since 2008 and works out of the Wisconsin Rapids Service Center. She serves as outreach educator in wildfire prevention, preparation and planning.

The forestry personnel will explain how homeowners can take steps to reduce the ignitability of their homes and how to prepare for wildfires and to protect their homes.

“With the fire-prone nature of our area, firefighters say that it is not a matter of if a wildfire will occur, but when it will occur,” said Zenz.

The spring of 1977 proved to be a particularly challenging brush fire season in the Black River Falls region. The Brockway fire burned more than 17,000 acres in Jackson County. The fire was caused by a westbound Chicago and Northwestern train which ignited areas along the track almost all the way to BRF before the train was stopped. The series of small fires combined to form one large fire. In addition, an illegal cooking fire escaped and joined the railroad fires. Along with the acres of natural area, the Brockway Fire burned 14 houses with damages totaling over $1.4 million before the wildfire was finally…

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