Worst forest fire in 25 years razes 30 homes

Worst forest fire in 25 years razes 30 homes

7May 2005

publishedby www.chicagotribune.com 

BIG FLATS, WISCONSIN — A fast-moving forest fire destroyed 30 homes and forced dozens to flee as it spread to almost 4,000 acres before being contained overnight, officials said Friday.

No major injuries were reported.

The wind-whipped fire was described as the largest wildfire in Wisconsin in 25 years. It destroyed 30 permanent and seasonal homes, at least 30 camper trailers and about 60 sheds or similar structures, Big Flats Fire Chief Dick Meyers said. About 125 families were evacuated; about two dozen spent the night at an elementary school.

The loss will be in the millions of dollars, said David Weitz, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

More than 200 homes and businesses lost electricity as the flames damaged transformers and burned at least 25 miles of power lines.

The blaze in rural Adams County began Thursday when a landowner started a small fire to clear grass before building a campfire, a DNR official said.

Jackie Jones, 44, said she had to drive through a “rolling ball of fire” to escape..

“God bless us, we’re here. We lost probably everything,” she said.


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