Persistent dry conditions throughout northern Minnesota will mix with unseasonably warm temperatures, low relative humidity, and gusty winds resulting in near-critical fire weather through the weekend. The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning on Friday, which spans all counties in northern Minnesota.
Counties in the Red Flag Warning include: Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, St. Louis, Wadena, and Wilkin.
A Red Flag Warning means that critical weather conditions are ideal for a simple spark to become a rapidly spreading wildfire, especially in the already dry northern forested areas. The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center urges everyone to be careful with any potential heat source that can cause a spark.
“Minimal precipitation throughout northern Minnesota brought little relief over the spring, and we are entering summer under higher fire danger conditions in northern Minnesota,” said Travis Verdegan, fire behavior specialist Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. “The appearance of green-up is deceiving as many areas in the north are now two to three inches below average for rainfall.”
Verdegan says more extreme wildfire behavior has been reported from recent wildfires than typically occurs this time of year due to the dryness. He anticipates high fire danger will continue into the summer season as abnormally dry conditions linger.
Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility. When conditions are this dry, any source of fire, even debris burns and campfires, can quickly turn into an escape wildfire.
• Don’t burn debris.
• Keep campfires 3 feet in diameter by 3 feet high or smaller.
• Remain with your campfire until it is out cold. Keep a hose or enough water and a shovel nearby to drown-stir-repeat until cold enough to touch.
• Be aware, sparks from gas-powered engines (including lawnmowers and ATVs) near dry grass or other vegetation can easily ignite a wildfire.
• If you do spot an escaped wildfire, don’t hesitate, call 911.