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NW Wisconsin wildfire consumes 8,700 acres

MILWAUKEE — Authorities are investigating whether logging operations might have sparked a massive wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin that destroyed dozens of buildings and forced at least 60 people from their homes, state officials said Wednesday.

The wildfire has consumed about 9,000 acres in Douglas and Bayfield County but is about 90 to 95 percent contained, meaning firefighters have largely arrested the spread of the fire, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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‘‘We are probably going to be here for another 36, 48 hours doing mop up, taking care of hotspots,’’ department spokesman Robert Manwell said Wednesday.

Winds were expected shift from northwest to west, which could help push fire from more populated areas, according to the department.

The Department of Natural Resources was expected to start taking people to properties Wednesday to check damage and retrieve pets and supplies, Manwell said.

Officials were investigating whether a spark from logging equipment could have started the fire near Simms Lake in Douglas County, said Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ed Culhane said.

At least 60 people have evacuated their homes. Forty-seven structures were destroyed, including 17 homes, but firefighters were able to save 77 other buildings. No injuries have been reported.

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