The Ripon Area Fire District (RAFD) responded to a fire in a field near the corner of Island Road and Elbow Road in the town of Ripon Monday afternoon that caused no injuries but did damage a farmer’s field.
Around 4:45 p.m., the fire district received a call about a fire on Island Road. Shortly after, RAFD was on the scene fighting the fire.
According to Ripon Fire Chief Tim Saul, the fire was caused by a malfunctioning power pole.
“A ceramic part of the power pole had gone bad and caused it to have a ground fault, which started the pole on fire,” he said. “When the primary lines dropped onto the lines below, it created sparks, which caused the fire.”
When the fire district arrived on the scene, Saul noted it used its rapid response vehicle to protect a nearby house.
“We kept that by the house, so that if the fire came up to the house, we’d be able to stop it,” he said.
RAFD also used its brush units to fight the blaze and UTVs to go into the field to put the fire out, he added. Additionally, a local farmer used his tractor to help stop the fire’s spread.
Saul added that the RAFD was on the scene for about an hour. It had assistance from the Utica Volunteer Fire Department, while the Brandon Fire Department stayed in Ripon in case a fire broke out in the city.
Prior to the fire in the town of Ripon, Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency Monday in response to elevated wildfire conditions throughout Wisconsin.
“The combination of dry vegetation, unseasonably warm temperatures, low relative humidity and increasing south or southeast winds will lead to continued elevated fire weather conditions,” a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.
Around the state, fire officials anticipate a slightly longer than average fire season due to early snow melting, according to the DNR.
“Any fire could quickly start and spread in these conditions,” the DNR said. “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.”
In terms of the elevated risk of fires right now, Saul recommends people avoid burning. If individuals do burn something outside, Saul says to try keep the fire small and to be cautious of windy conditions, which can spread fires.
“Everything is extremely dry right now, and it only takes a few sparks to start a fire,” he said. “With the wind out in the country, those fires travel fast.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Ripon Fire Chief Tim Saul.