Dry, Windy Conditions Contribute To Spike In Outdoor Fire Calls Over the Weekend

Incident Type
Saturday, May 1, 2021 - 12:32pm
Madison, WI

The Madison Fire Department responded to several outdoor fires over the weekend, many of which occurred on Saturday when weather conditions were windy. Thanks to early reporting by 911 callers, most of the fires were caught before they could spread further, cause personal injury, or result in property damage. Some fires are believed to be the result of improperly discarded cigarettes while others were related to outdoor cooking. The cause of some fires could not be determined.

Firefighters urge the public to be mindful of current weather conditions on any given day and to be extra cautious about handling materials that could spark a fire. Be sure to always dispose of cigarettes in proper ashtrays or receptacles. Do not throw cigarette butts out the car window, flick cigarettes onto the sidewalk, or use planter pots as an ashtray. Also consider postponing backyard fires and cookouts until the outdoor wildfire risk is reduced, especially when conditions are windy.

Below is a round-up of outdoor fire calls MFD responded to on Saturday and Sunday:

Saturday, 5/1, at 12:32 p.m. — 700 block E. Johnson Street
A full structure fire response was dispatched to the 700 block of East Johnson Street for a report of a fire burning underneath the deck of a residential building. Ladder Co. 1 arrived first on scene to find some smoldering leaves and other dry debris under the deck. Neighbors and a resident stated they found a small fire there and quickly poured pots of water on it while calling 911. Engine Co. 1 applied additional water from their bumper line to completely wet the burning debris and ensure it would not rekindle. Other fire companies were returned to service. Engine 1 and Ladder 1 found several cigarette butts lying around, and it is believed the fire was the result of improperly discarded cigarettes.

Saturday, 5/1, at 2:03 p.m. — 4000 block Evan Acres Way
Engine Co. 14 responded to Ho-Chunk Gaming for an ash tray smoldering in an island in the parking lot. Firefighters were waved to the proper location, where bushes and mulch had some charring from a previous fire. Just prior to firefighters’ arrival, staff members put a bucket of water on the bush to stop the fire. Engine 14 applied additional water to assure the fire was out.

Saturday, 5/1, at 2:32 p.m. — East Towne Way
Engine Co. 8 responded to East Towne Mall for a small grass/mulch fire. Mall security directed the crew to the fire’s location, and firefighters put out the fire with a water can extinguisher. No property damage resulted from this fire. The exact cause of the fire could not be determined.

Saturday, 5/1, at 3:08 p.m. — 8000 block Mineral Point Road
Ladder Co. 2 was called to Mineral Point Road to wet down a one-square foot area of mulch that was smoldering. No other hazards were found as firefighters doused the area. Thanks to early reporting from a 911 caller, this fire was unable to grow or spread.

Saturday, 5/1, at 3:14 p.m. — 4000 block Libby Road
Engine Co. 14 responded to a burning complaint at Libby Park. Upon arrival, the crew found a camp group having a fire in a pit. Due to the dry conditions, winds, and no means of extinguishing the fire if needed (which is among the requirements of the City of Madison’s Outdoor and Open Burning Ordinance), the group was told the fire needed to be put out. Firefighters stuck around to help the campers set up an area to use their camp stove safely to make a meal rather than have a campfire.

Saturday, 5/1, at 4:05 p.m. — 300 block Blettner Boulevard
Engine Co. 8 was dispatched to an outside fire at a campsite. With assistance from Engine 5, crews put a stop to the fire. The MFD Fire Investigation Team also responded and determined the fire was started by hot cooking appliances. There was no property damage resulting from this fire, and nobody was injured.

Saturday, 5/1, at 4:27 p.m. — 5600 block of Schroeder Road
Ladder Co. 7 responded to this location to find mulch smoking and smoldering next to a building. An extinguisher was used to put out the embers. No ignition sources were located in the immediate vicinity of the fire. Investigators requested surveillance video to help determine the cause, which remains under investigation.

Sunday, 5/2, at 3:02 p.m. — 1300 block Loreen Drive
Engine Co. 7 responded to this address for a report of a small outside fire. A small patch of smoldering mulch was found, measuring approximately 5 inches by 15 inches near a bush. No flames were seen, and there was no damage to the nearby house or any other property. Firefighters stomped out the fire and applied water to cool it down. Although the root cause of the smoldering is unknown, it is possible based on interviews with residents that a discarded cigarette butt was the cause. There was no evidence of foul play or arson.


Posted 05/03/2021 - 10:44am

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)