(The Center Square) – The Wisconsin National Guard’s next mission will be fighting the state’s wildfires.
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday declared a State of Emergency because of the hundreds of acres that have burned across the state already this spring.
“With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” the governor said.
Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources reports there have been hundreds of fires since the snow melted in early March. There were 150 fires reported just last weekend alone.
“There have already been more than 320 wildfires reported in Wisconsin so far this year, burning over 1,500 acres,” the DNR said in a statement.
The 1,500 acres burned so far this spring are almost as many acres burned during all of last year’s fire season.
Gov. Evers is not saying how many troops he is calling up, or where in the state they will come from. The governor is mobilizing Wisconsin’s Blackhawk helicopters to aid in the firefighting mission.
DNR says those choppers will be key in delivering water to fires that are burning in remote parts of the state.
All of Wisconsin is at a high level of fire danger. Forecasters say a dry spring has only provided more fuel for the fires. And the danger is not nearly over, fire season in Wisconsin typically lasts until the end of May.