Braun Fire

  • Size: 100 acres
  • Detected: November 2, 2022
  • Location: Wright County – Southwest of Delano, Minn.
  • Incident Management Team: MNICS Team B, Aaron Mielke
  • Cooperating Agencies: Minnesota DNR, and mutual aid from Watertown, Delano, Montrose, Victoria and Cologne Fire Departments

The Braun Fire was detected late in the day on November 2, 2022. The Watertown Fire Department conducted initial attack focusing on securing the perimeter of the fire area. Fire Crews noticed that the fire was already burning in organic material in the ground during the first day. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry was contacted and responded with additional personnel and equipment due to the longer duration nature of peat fires. Since then, the fire has continued to burn further into the organic material. Due to the amount of heat and fire in the peat as well as the longer duration and additional personnel needed to work on the fire, Minnesota Type 3 Incident Management Team B led by Incident Commander Aaron Mielke was ordered. Team B assumed command of the fire at 7:00am on November 7, 2022.

Conservation Corps Crews, engines, tracked vehicles, and contractors with equipment were all involved with turning and mixing the burning peat material with cool water. Local fire departments helped keep the drop tanks filled with water that supported the portable pumps and hose lines. A two person saw team worked on cutting up fire affected trees, while equipment moved the material into smaller burn piles within the interior of the fire burned area.

The key to extinguishing any peat fire is to expose the burning organic material and then cool it with large amounts of water. On November 8 a water flooding operation to draw in a large amount of water to the burned area holding heat in the ground was coordinated with the DNR’s Division of Ecological and Water Resources. A contractor set up a large pump and hose line that ran from Fountain Lake and progressed south to the fire area. Temporary small berms were constructed to direct and hold the flood water on the remaining areas of burning organic peat material. The large pumps located on Fountain Lake generated a lot of noise as they ran continuously ran over the next couple of days moving water to the fire area. In additional to the flooding operation, tracked vehicles continued to extinguish hot spots as needed.

MNICS Team B returned management of the Braun fire to the DNR’s Little Falls Area Forestry Office on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.