Second death linked to NW Wisconsin stormUpdate: The death of a Burnett County man of an apparent heart attack also might have been related to the storm.
By: Andrew Krueger and John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Crews cleaned up debris and worked to restore power in Northwestern Wisconsin Saturday afternoon after powerful straight-line winds scoured the landscape and caused the death of an 11-year-old Hinckley, Minn., girl when a tree fell on her at a campground in Burnett County.
The death of a Burnett County man of an apparent heart attack also might have been related to the storm, according to Brian Satula, administrator of the Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center.
Burnett County is just south of Douglas County.
Dawn Sargent, public information officer for the county, said 39 people were injured in the storm, three critically. The critically injured victims were taken to hospitals in Eau Claire, Wis. Most of the others were treated and released, Satula reported in a news release.
Sargent said the entire county was hard hit in the storm, with three-quarters of the county sustaining significant damage. The Grantsburg area sustained the heaviest damage.
“It’s a mess,” Sargent said. “We have some pretty widespread damage throughout the county. We’ve got numerous roads that are blocked due to the falling trees and debris.”
Burnett County has a resident population of 17,000, but with holiday visitors the weekend population was probably closer to 80,000, according to Sheriff Dean Roland. Power was out throughout the county during the night but was gradually being restored. Sargent didn’t have official numbers from power companies, but said, “Probably the whole county was black until 3:30 or 4 this morning.”
Problems were reported with phone and 911 lines in Douglas County, according to the Emergency Operations Center. The 911 lines were rerouted to Bayfield County.
Local utilities estimated that about 400 homes in remote areas of Douglas County were without power this afternoon and that restoration of power might take several days.
At least 12,000 homes in Burnett and Washburn counties were without power, the state agency said, and there’s no word on when power will be fully restored.
An Emergency Operations Center was set up at the Burnett County Government Center in Siren and an incident command post in Grantsburg, Sargent said.
The damage in Burnett County was caused by widespread straight-line winds, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth, which conducted ground and aerial surveys of the area. Indicators of “non-tornadic” winds included damage blown down in a northeast or east direction, the weather service reported. Wind gusts probably reached 60 to 80 mph as the storms moved through shortly after 7 p.m.
Several corridors of intense damage were caused by isolated gusts of more than 100 mph, according to the weather service. Entire stands of healthy pine trees were leveled, their trunks snapped off, in patches of an acre or more.
Siren was the site of a deadly tornado in June 2001 that claimed three lives, destroyed 167 homes and damaged 280 others. Virtually the entire business area along Wisconsin Highway 35 in Siren was wiped out, including two hotels, a theater, restaurants, a four-store mall and the youth ice arena.
In Solon Springs, two houses and several outbuildings were destroyed, according to the state emergency agency. At the airport, the roof of a hangar was blown off and the wall collapsed, dropping the building on a single-engine plane.
The Red Lake Resort in Wascott was damaged, Satula said.