Wildfire danger remains in northwest

Sparse precipitation creates abnormally dry conditions

Spring wildfire season is essentially over except for northwestern Minnesota that remains abnormally dry. A U.S. Drought Monitor map shows lack of precipitation in that region compared to the rest of the state. Wildfires can start easily in northwestern Minnesota and spread at a higher rate. Minnesotans are asked to be careful with campfires and outdoor recreation this Memorial Weekend.

During spring 2016, all three Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) teams were mobilized to wildfires, mainly in the Arrowhead. So far this year, there have been no team assignments. However MNICS Team A is gearing up for the 2017 Wildfire Academy, June 5-9 at Itasca Community College. About 700 participants will attend with some 100 instructors in courses from water pumps to air operations.

As of May 26, a total of 801 wildfires have occurred for less than 2,500 acres burned. The last aircraft request was May 20th for a total of 111 aviation dispatch requests to 63 wildfires during spring wildfire season. At its peak, when wildfire probability is highest, MNICS agencies have as many as 25 aircraft on call in the state. Next week three contract aircraft will remain along with the existing state and federal fleet aircraft.

USFS photo

Fewer wildfires meant less suppression but more prevention activity through prescribed fire. So far in 2017, MNICS agencies conducted 443 prescribed burns for 71,654 acres.

Wildland firefighter with drip torch at Rx burn (MNICS archive photo)

Currently, permits for outdoor burning are required. Conditions change so check online to activate your permit.