Gov. Mark Dayton has declared April 20–26 as Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota to increase awareness of outdoor wildfire hazards.
Each spring wildland firefighters and rural fire department volunteers spend countless hours battling wildfires that could have been easily prevented.
In the past 18 months, wildfires burned 21 homes and three commercial buildings and threatened more than 500 other structures, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. These fires were caused by people misjudging the weather and danger of fires escaping their control.
“Due to the dead and dry grasses that can easily catch fire, spring is always a risky time for wildfires in Minnesota,” said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator. “Right now the fire danger in southern and central Minnesota is high, which means fires can easily start and quickly spread. Therefore, burning permits are not being issued in most of these areas.”
A major cause of wildfires is burning yard waste. The DNR recommends composting or mulching instead. If burning is necessary, landowners should check fire burning restrictions in their area, get a burning permit, be careful with their debris fires and remember small-piled debris can hold hot coals for several days to months for large ones.
The DNR has developed new wildfire prevention Web pages to help increase awareness of wildfire prevention and the dangers of wildfires.
Burning restrictions will continue to expand into northern Minnesota as fire danger increases due to snow melt.
Visit the current statewide fire danger and burning restrictions Web page for more information.
“When you light a fire, you are responsible for keeping it under control and staying with it until it is out,” Himanga said. “If you think your fire is out, check again.”