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Boreal Community Media

Dry conditions throughout Minnesota increase potential for wildfires

Dec 13, 2023 09:56AM ● By Content Editor

Photo: Og Mpango

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - December 13, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages Minnesotans to use caution and stay aware of wildfire risk. Lack of snow and unusually warm, dry conditions over the next week are likely to increase fire danger in much of Minnesota. Dry, brown grasses and vegetation mean wildfires can start easily and spread quickly; this elevated risk is likely to persist until we have continuous snow cover.

“Don’t be fooled because it’s December. Even with some scattered snow showers, burning vegetative debris is risky right now, especially with temperature increases and windy conditions predicted over the next week,” said Karen Harrison, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. “We are asking people to consider delaying any planned burning until conditions improve.”

Due to drought conditions over the past few years, any fires now have the potential to burn deep into the unusually dry organic soil layer. Deep-burning fires hold heat for days, sometimes months, and could lead to wildfires in the days or weeks ahead.

It is best to wait to burn brush or vegetative debris until there is at least 3 inches of snow cover on the ground. Alternatively, Minnesotans are asked to consider composting, chipping, or transporting materials to a brush collection site as alternatives to burning.

When conditions improve, remember burning permits (mndnr.gov/burnpermit) are required for burning vegetative debris (leaves, branches, woody material, etc.) in piles larger than 3 feet high by 3 feet in diameter until there is at least 3 inches of continuous snow cover. Check current conditions on the DNR fire danger and burning restrictions webpage (mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions). Also, be sure to follow safe debris burning tips (mndnr.gov/wildfire/prevention/debrisburning) to help reduce wildfire risk.