Burning demand for firewood - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Burning demand for firewood

MADISON (WKOW) -- With recent record energy prices, firewood is now a burning commodity.

"Last year we sold about 70 - 75 cords. This year we're at 125 cords already," said Matt Meicher, President of Premier Firewood Distribution in McFarland.

Even though he's raised his prices, he says the orders keep coming in.

"When you compare the cost, it's half the cost to burn fire wood that it is to burn the fuel oil," he said.

And as people rely more on wood to heat their homes, barns, and businesses, availability gets tighter.

"I put calls out for 2,000 cords, which is 200 semi-loads of logs. To date, I've gotten four semi-loads," said Terry Benjamin.

Benjamin's Firewood Delivery company in Fitchburg competes directly with paper mills for logs.

"They seem to have deeper pockets and are able to lure the loggers to their location as opposed to selling it to us," Benjamin said.

He's had to raise prices 20 percent, to absorb production costs.

"To run my processor and my end-loaders and dump trucks and delivery vehicles, my fuel bill is regularly $4,000 a month."

As for the consumer, Benjamin says people can expect to pay about 120 dollars per face cord. That's about 300 pieces of wood -- 4 feet high by 8 feet wide -- and make sure the firewood dealer properly treated it.

Said Benjamin, "It's important that the wood sit for one year to cure, so that it burns clean, burns hot, and burns thoroughly in your fireplace."

The emerald ash borer is also affecting wood supply. Some distributors are choosing not to stock ash wood, for fears of infestation and spreading the destructive bug across Wisconsin.

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