Continued drought conditions mean very high fire danger persists in northwestern Minnesota. Spring outdoor recreation activity is increasing, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges outdoor enthusiasts to limit the use of campfires and use caution with off-road vehicles that could spark and start a wildfire.
Northern Minnesota counties remain under open burning restrictions. Minnesota’s wildland fire management agencies report nearly 900 wildland fires have burned more than 32,000 acres since the beginning of March.
The majority of the wildfire activity has occurred in the driest area of the state, the northwest corner.
This includes the Oxcart Fire, which burned approximately 13,000 acres on and around portions of the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge near Mentor, making it Minnesota’s largest wildfire in nearly a decade, and the Goods Fire, which scorched more than 5,500 acres near Red Lake last week.
“We want people to enjoy the state forests, state parks and trails, but in a way that doesn’t put themselves, their fellow recreationists and residents, and our firefighters’ in danger,” said Ben Lang, Forestry Division assistant supervisor in Bemidji. “During very dry conditions, any fire that starts has the potential to spread and get out of control very quickly.”
Lang said the area’s drought and continued sub-freezing temperatures are delaying spring green-up, and until it arrives, wildfire danger will continue. He recommends campers follow these tips to avoid accidently starting a wildfire.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Keep the fire within a fire ring and clear all flammable materials within 5 feet of the fire.
- Before leaving, make sure the fire is completely out: drown with water, stir and repeat – until embers are cold.
People who ride off-road are also encouraged to take a few simple precautions to prevent wildfires:
- Don’t park recreational vehicles, cars or trucks on dry vegetation.
- Use an approved spark arrester on all internal combustion powered equipment.
For more information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, visit the DNR website: mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions.