To increase awareness of outdoor wildfire hazards, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced that April 16-22 is Wildfire Prevention Week. Minnesotans are asked to be thoughtful about how and when they use fire.
Most wildfires in Minnesota occur in the spring. Last year’s dry vegetation can quickly catch fire between the time snow has melted and plants or grasses green up. Fires escaping a debris burn is the number-one cause of wildfires. Campfires escaping the fire ring on dry, windy days is another important cause of wildfires.
“The DNR is already fighting wildfires thanks to the mild winter and early spring,” said Linda Gormanson, DNR burning permits coordinator. “Dead or dormant vegetation can easily catch fire since we’ve had little precipitation so far this spring.”
Because escaped debris burning fires are the biggest cause of wildfires in Minnesota, Gormanson recommends mulching or composting vegetative debris to avoid these fires in the first place. If plans include a campfire, Gormanson said clear the area around the campfire and keep the fire to less than 3 feet in diameter and height. Keep a shovel and water on hand, watch the campfire continuously and make sure it is completely out before leaving.
The DNR has initiated spring burning restrictions to reduce the number of unintended fires. A burning permit is required to burn vegetative material unless there is at least 3 inches of snow on the ground. The DNR or local governments may also restrict burning if weather conditions warrant.
Visit the DNR’s statewide fire danger and current burning restriction webpage before starting a fire. Also check local weather conditions.
So far this year, 455 fires have burned 1,238 acres. On average each year, Minnesota fire agencies respond to 1,500 wildfires that burn over 42,000 acres at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
Visit the Wildfire Prevention webpage to learn more about wildfire prevention.