UPDATE: Wisconsin Wildfire Started By Logging Operations

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Investigators say a large wildfire caused by logging operations in northwestern Wisconsin wasn't intentionally set and criminal charges aren't expected.

The Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that negligence wasn't involved in the blaze, which destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate before it was contained Wednesday night.

The DNR says a logging equipment operator noticed smoke coming from the equipment while harvesting timber Tuesday afternoon. The operator unsuccessfully tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher while another operator called 911.

No injuries have been reported from the fire, which charred more than 8,000 acres.

The fire started near Simms Lake in Douglas County, 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minnesota.

The DNR says Douglas County prosecutors don't plan to file any criminal charges.


TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) -- Firefighters battling a 9,000-acre in northwestern Wisconsin have contained the massive blaze.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Robert Manwell said Thursday the fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties is 100 percent contained. Manwell says fire crews will be handling small brush fires and reworking the lines that contain the wildfire.

Authorities opened all public roads in the area overnight and some residents headed back to their homes. The fire, which began Tuesday, destroyed 17 homes and 30 other structures. The DNR says no one has been hurt in the largest forest fire to hit northern Wisconsin in 33 years.

Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in Douglas and Bayfield counties, which makes the Wisconsin National Guard available for recovery efforts. The governor plans to tour the area Thursday.


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