Wildfires in Minnesota

Wildfire prevention begins with you!

DNR wildfire costs, including preparedness, prevention and suppression, topped $23 million in 2023. With most wildfires (98 percent in 2023) resulting from people, we need your help to prevent them!

Numbers of wildfires in Minnesota, 2018-2022

bar chart of number of wildfire in MN. 2018 1333, 2019 1005, 2020 564, 2021 2095,and 2022 725

Major wildfires

large fire engulfing pine trees.

Ham Lake Fire-36,442 acres (2007)

This fire resulted from a campfire that was not fully extinguished. 75,850 acres burned, including 39,408 acres in Canada. Cost to extinguish: $11.8 million.

aerial photo showing fire in boundary Waters caneo area

Pagami Creek-93,000 acres (2011)

Ignited by a lighting strike, the Pagami Creek fire burned more than 93,000 acres, much of it within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

prescribed burn

Green Valley-7,100 acres (2013)

This wildfire burned in Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties. The fire destroyed 12 homes, 43 outbuildings and three commercial structures.


If you cause it, you pay for it!


illustration for fire costs

Causes of wildfires in Minnesota

 wildfires causes pie chart percentage debris 34 percent, equipment 12 percent, misc 18 percent, arson and incindary 25 percent, lighting 2 percent, campfires 5 percent, smokng 2 percent railroad 3 percent

Interesting facts

  1. 4 of 10 wildfires are caused by debris fires burning out of control. Unattended debris often mistakenly believed to be extinguished, continues to be leading cause of wildfires.
  2. Even though Arson and Incendiary fires accounted for just 18 percent of the wildfires that burned in 2018, more than half (55 percent) of all acres burned resulted from these fires.
  3. Since 2013, fires started by vehicles have burned more acres (36 percent of total) than fires started by other equipment. When parking off highway, avoid dry, fine vegetation, such as grass, as hot exhaust can readily ignite it.
  4. The DNR and rail operators have a long partnership of working together to reduce railroad caused wildfires. These fires often start in remote areas, delay ing detection and response.

Goals of Minnesota DNR forestry fire suppression:

  • Prevent wildfires whenever possible.
  • Respond within 20 minutes.
  • Keep fires at 10 acres or fewer.
  • Aggressively protect structures when if can be safely accomplished.
  • Support local fire department suppression with the use of fixed and rotor wing aviation, tracked vehicles, and other specialized equipment.

DNR Forestry works with other public agencies to protect 45.5 million acres of land and the people who live there.

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