Active wildfire weather today

MNICS agencies were prepared

NWS Red Flag Warning map, May 4 2018

At approximately 0600 this morning, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for most of Minnesota. This means dangerous fire weather conditions were expected with wind gusts up to 30 mph and relative humidity levels possibly dipping to 20 percent.

Fire danger

Fire behavior increased dramatically today with  low humidity levels and high gusty winds. The state fire weather index was high and extreme in central and western Minnesota. This afternoon, a wildfire broke out near Nashwauk requiring two Fire Boss aircraft, an air attack, a helicopter and a Type-1 air tanker. Aircraft were on the scene for nearly three hours at the 65-acre wildfire that was near structures. As of today, MNICS agencies reported 614 wildfires for 9,150 total acres burned.

Minnesota DNR, May 4 2018

Burning restrictions

When fire danger is high, the Minnesota DNR regulates outdoor burning of yard waste and debris. Check any burning done recently to ensure the fire is out. Any spark could become a wildfire, particularly before spring ‘green up’ in Minnesota.

Counties under restriction:  Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac qui Parle, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Roseau, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, St Louis, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Washington, Wilkin, Wright, Yellow Medicine. (More to follow on Monday, May 7).

Minnesota DNR burning restrictions, May 4 2018

Preparedness

MNICS agencies consist of the Minnesota DNR, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Homeland Security & Emergency Management. Ex-officio members: The Minnesota State Fire Marshal and the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.

All MNICS agencies were fully-staffed today with engines, initial attack firefighters, Conservation Corps of Minnesota crews, tracked vehicles, bulldozers and other firefighting equipment. The Idaho Panhandle and Bay Mills hotshots are also in Minnesota. Aviation  resources were strategically positioned throughout the state with a fleet of Fire Boss aircraft, single engine tankers (SEATS), helicopters, detection planes and two heavy (Type-1) aircraft (BAe RJ-85) and a helitanker (611-CK) with a 1,000-gallon payload.

BAe AVRO 146 (Paul Wannarka photo)

Helo 611-CK (Paul Wannarka photo)

Prevention

Fond du Lac reservation Rx burn, Sawyer, Minnesota (Matt Goseyun photo)
Fond du Lac reservation Rx burn, Sawyer, Minnesota (Matt Goseyun photo).

Earlier in the week, with conducive weather conditions, MNICS agencies completed a number of prescribed fires. As of today, a total of 105 prescribed fires were conducted for a total of 14,046 acres. Prescribed fire is used to manage weeds, reduce the risk of wildfires, rejuvenate desirable plant growth and restore natural wildlife habitat.