Heat, dry weather cause fire & traffic dangers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Heat, dry weather cause fire & traffic dangers

MADISON (WKOW) -- We're seeing a third day of uncomfortable heat in Madison, dealing with buckling roads and a major lack of rain.

The conditions are difficult for emergency crews. The Madison Fire Department has responded to about 20 outdoor fires this month alone-- many that could have been prevented.

"We're seeing mulch fires and almost inevitably we find a cigarette butt nearby," says spokesperson Lori Wirth.

Meteorologists say Madison is down 3.5 inches of rain this year. Now, the heat is drying out brush even more. June is normally the wettest month of the year, but so far Madison has only seen 0.12 inches.

Another heat obstacle-- when concrete gets too hot, it expands. You never know where it might buckle, so Dane County Highway Department workers are on standby.

On Tuesday, pavement buckled in 14 different spots, on roads like the Beltline and Stoughton Road. Lanes had to be closed down during high traffic hours for crews to repair the damage.

"They'll jackhammer down and put a gap between the pavement that's buckling and that relieves the pressure and then we'll patch it," says Operations Manager Dan Behrend.

Pavement buckling can really slow traffic down, so officials ask drivers to be patient if you find yourself in traffic on a hot day.

"Concentrate on driving, try to leave a little space between you and the car in front of you so you can kind of react if anything happens," says Behrend.

Fire officials also want people to be careful during this dry weather.

"Keep anything that's burning, whether its a grill or a fire pit, away from buildings away from any combustibles," says Wirth.

Officials remind smokers to be extra careful of where you're discarding cigarette butts, because that can be the start to many grass fires. Also, if you're using a grill or fire pit, always stay near the fire, and have water close by.


MADISON (WKOW) -- We've seen weeks of dry weather here in Wisconsin. Every day that goes by with little to no rain increases the risk of fire that could spread quickly.

June is normally the wettest month, but not this year. Meteorologists say Madison has only seen .12 inches this June, when we normally average more than 4 inches for the whole month.

Even if it does rain Wednesday night, it won't be enough to stick around and wet the dried out soil and grass, which means fires can spread quickly in the dry grass.

That's not the only trouble we're seeing in Madison-- the extreme heat is causing pavement buckling in spots along the Beltline. Dane County's Highway Department crews will be monitoring the temperature of the concrete. Officials say if it gets too hot, the concrete expands, which causes the pavement to buckle later in the afternoon.

Tonight on 27 News at 5 and 6, Jennifer Kliese will tell us more about the dangers of fire and pavement buckling.

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