Fire danger is still high
Wadena County is included in a list of counties under burning permit restrictions because of dry conditions and a high risk for wildfires. "We're definitely looking at drier conditions similar to 1988 and 1976," said Mike Lichter, fire program fo...
Wadena County is included in a list of counties under burning permit restrictions because of dry conditions and a high risk for wildfires.
"We're definitely looking at drier conditions similar to 1988 and 1976," said Mike Lichter, fire program forester for the Department of Natural Resources.
People can tell that fires will start spreading in grass without much effort, he said.
A few fires have started in the area but there aren't as many as in the spring because people do less debris burning, Lichter said.
"The major concerns are the accidents with farm equipment and power lines," he said.
On Saturday, the Department of Natural Resources announced the hot, dry weather over the weekend increased the potential for wildfire activity in northern Minnesota, including Wadena.
"The rain that fell in parts of the state on July 13 was spotty at best", said Jean Bergerson with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in a news release. "Many areas are still several inches behind on accumulated precipitation."
Recreational fires and burn piles should be avoided because of the dry weather, Lichter said. People can't rely on lawns as fire breaks, he said. If someone is burning, he or she should burn later in the day, avoid wind and have water and tools on hand in case the fire spreads, he said.
"Even embers flying from the fire could start another fire," he said.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wadena County is in the very high risk category for fires.
A very high risk category means fires start very easily and spread at a very fast rate. Also, fires can start easily from all causes, spread rapidly and intensify quickly. Spot fires are a constant danger. Fires burning in heavy fuels may quickly develop high-intensity characteristics, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirlwinds. Direct attack at the head of such fires is rarely possible after they have been burning more than a few minutes.
The city of Wadena has an ordinance for recreational fires and large bonfires. According to the ordinance, recreational fires should be in a fireplace or device designed and manufactured for those types of fires. In those fires, firewood should not exceed 24 inches in length and should be untreated, unfinished wood, according to the ordinance. For larger bonfires, permits are required.
But the DNR recently placed restrictions on burning permits. During the burning permit restriction, permits will only be issued by the local Department of Natural Resources Forestry office. A map showing restriction is available on the Web at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire .
Dry, hot weather was expected to continue through much of the week with near "Red Flag" conditions on Saturday, according to the DNR. Red Flag conditions are temperatures over 70 degrees, humidity less than 25 percent and winds in excess of 25 miles per hour.
"With near Red Flag conditions forecast ... we are reminding people to take extra care with ATV exhaust and think twice before striking that match," Bergerson said. "People should ask themselves if lighting a match is both safe and necessary."
The restrictions are used to keep wildfires from starting, preventing the loss of property, wildlife habitat and possibly lives.