- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015
Central Wisconsin wildfires burn buildings, cause evacuation

WAUTOMA, Wis. (AP) - Six buildings caught fire and 15 homes had to be evacuated as warm weather and dry conditions helped fuel wildfires in central Wisconsin.

Catherine Koele (COO’-ley), the wildfire prevention specialist for the state Department of Resources, says three houses and three outbuildings caught fire Saturday in Juneau County. She says the homes were used for storage and no one lived in them.

In Waushara County, about 15 houses were evacuated near in a wildfire that burned about 50 acres of forest and swamp land. She says it had been contained by 5:15 p.m. Saturday and no structures were damaged.

There were less serious wildfires in Menominee, Richland and Taylor counties.

The entire state was at a high or very high chance of fire danger Saturday. No one was reported injured.

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Bird flu virus raises questions scientists working to answer

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - It’s been five months since the H5N2 bird flu virus was discovered in the United States, and producers have lost 21 million birds in the Midwest alone. Yet, researchers acknowledge they still know little about a bird flu virus that’s endangered turkey and egg-laying chicken populations that supply much of the nation.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies are puzzled by the H5N2 virus’ spread - even amid heightened biosecurity measures - and apparent lack of widespread deaths in largely unprotected backyard flocks.

“At this point, we don’t know very much about these viruses because they’ve only recently been identified,” Dr. Alicia Fry, the CDC’s leader of the influenza prevention and control team, said. “We’re following the situation very closely because this is something we’re continuing to understand.”

The current H5N2 virus surfaced last winter in Canada and was first identified in the United States in early December, when it was found in a wild bird on the West Coast. This spring, the virus was found in poultry operations in eight Midwest states, forcing commercial producers to kill and compost millions of turkeys and chickens in Iowa, Minnesota and elsewhere.

Scientists speculate that perhaps rodents or small birds, seeking food, tracked the virus into barns. Maybe it’s the work of flies, as the bird flu virus has been found on the insects in a Pennsylvania outbreak in 1983 and in Japan in 2004. The USDA’s chief veterinarian even floated the idea last week wind may be blowing dust and feathers carrying the virus from the barnyard into buildings through air vents.

“To me, the main concern is the disease is moving even with heightened biosecurity,” said Richard French, a professor of animal health at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. “Ideally we’ve got to try and figure out the way it’s most likely moving and try to put controls in place to stop that.”

Poultry farms’ biosecurity measures include changing clothes and boots before entering barns, disinfecting equipment and vehicles before they approach the barns and assigning workers to specific barns.

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Portage teen gets to wear grandmother’s dress to prom

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) - One Portage Junior Prom attendee will be wearing the same dress her grandmother wore to her own prom over 60 years ago.

The Portage Daily Register reports (https://bit.ly/1bpbrKXhttps://bit.ly/1bpbrKX ) Betty Dubberstein wore the ivory tiered dress when she was crowned 1954 Prom Queen at Princeton High School.

Now her granddaughter, Annmarie Dubberstein is wearing it to her prom Saturday.

The 78-year-old Neenah resident says she’s almost as excited as she was in 1954, when she paid $48 for it.

She planned to be on hand Saturday to watch the dress be reborn.

Betty Dubberstein had three sons, so she was never able to pass it down.

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No reports of major damage from small earthquake in Michigan

DETROIT (AP) - Geological experts say a small earthquake centered in southwestern Michigan has been felt around the state and other parts of the Upper Midwest.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said the 4.2-magnitude temblor was recorded shortly after noon Saturday. Its epicenter was about 9 miles southeast of Kalamazoo near Galesburg.

There were no reports of damage or injuries. Caruso says that’s common for quakes of this magnitude.

People have reported feeling the earthquake in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says in a statement that earthquakes are rare in the state. He added that the lack of major problems is “fortunate because we are acutely aware of the challenges posed by such natural disasters in other parts of the world recently.”

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