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WI fire burns 15 homes

A 4,900-acre wildfire in Wisconsin burned 15 homes near the town of Big Flats.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | May 6, 2005

A 4,900-acre wildfire in Wisconsin burned 15 homes near the town of Big Flats.

Local crews continued to assess damage Friday. Some 200 households were without power on Friday. The fire burned 25 miles of power lines. Utility poles were destroyed and transformers were damaged.

About 100 people were evacuated - some with as little as one hourís notice - in a 100-square-mile area near the town of Big Flats in rural Adams County.

About two dozen people spent the night at an American Red Cross shelter in a local elementary school on Thursday night. Some people reported seeing flames shooting 120 feet into the air.

The fire was a fast-moving one, said Lt. Col. Tim Donovan of the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management. "It was also dry and windy, and the terrain is sandy, so the soil doesn't hold much water."

The Salvation Army was on the scene offering food to evacuees and emergency workers.

Local fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management, National Guard, and other agencies also responded, said Donovan.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle surveyed the damage by helicopter on Friday morning.

The blaze - the stateís largest wildfire in 20 years - was contained shortly after midnight on Thursday night, said Donovan. It began as a brush fire. No major injuries were reported.

Many residents were also reminded of another disaster - a tornado killed two people and destroyed homes in the same area in 1994.


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