Fireworks suspected in trio of Douglas County wildfires

All three fires were reported within a span of 30 minutes.

An average of 280 people go to the ER each day around the Fourth of July with fireworks-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Getty Images

A trio of wildfires in Douglas County Thursday, June 25, may have been intentionally set by someone using fireworks.

Over the course of 30 minutes, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies and volunteer firefighters were called to fires in Lake Nebagamon, Bennett and Solon Springs, according to sheriff’s office reports.

Several torn pieces of cardboard and purple paper that appeared to be from fireworks were collected from the Lake Nebagamon fire site on South Lake Boulevard, according to reports. The fire was reported at 3:56 p.m. Thursday. Lake Nebagamon constable Pete Witt reported seeing a red Ford pickup truck with a black ladder rack drive past his squad car, which was parked at the intersection of South Lake Boulevard and Marsik Road. A minute or two later, he saw smoke billowing from the area the truck had come from.

“This route of travel would be consistent if all three fires were set by the same person,” Detective Matt Izzard stated in his report.

The town of Bennett fire, reported at 4:06 p.m., involved three smaller fires on both sides of County Highway P near Firetower Road. Firefighters found the fact that the fires were on both sides of the road unusual. Izzard reported finding pieces of paper that smelled similar to burnt gunpowder at the Bennett fire site. A partial label on one appeared to have come from a launcher tube for fireworks.


The fire burned roughly an acre of forest land and no structures were at risk, according to a Facebook post from the Bennett Volunteer Fire Department. Fire crews were on site for more than three hours. The post thanked everyone who reported the fire and volunteers for their quick response.

The Solon Springs fire, which was called in at 4:20 p.m., started on the east side of South Business 53 near the intersection with Prevost Road. It burned an area of ditch and woodland covering roughly 1.1 acres.

The fire had threatened a structure located on Prevost Road, according to a report by Deputy Joshua DeLong, but did not cause any damage. The only apparent property damage was charring to an electric post and melted plastic on the support cable for the pole. No evidence was found that fireworks were involved.

The fires remain under investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed something in any of the three areas is asked to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

This story was updated at 4:28 p.m. June 26 with information that the fires remain under investigation and correcting Detective Matt Izzard's title. It was updated with the correct date at 9 a.m. June 29. It was originally posted at 4:15 p.m. June 26.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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