(Released from MN DNR April 16 2015)
Gov. Mark Dayton has declared April 19-25 as Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota to increase awareness of outdoor wildfire hazards.
In Minnesota, most wildfires occur in the spring between snow melt and vegetation green up because last year’s dry vegetation can quickly catch fire. So far this year, more than 800 fires have burned over 15,000 acres. The DNR has already responded to almost twice as many fires as the agency did in the entire last year.
On average, fire agencies in Minnesota annually respond to 1,200 wildfires that burn over 38,000 acres at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
“With last year’s drought, lack of winter snow fall and early spring, wildland firefighters and rural fire departments are already battling wildfires this spring,” said Linda Gormanson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildfire prevention coordinator.
Most wildfires fires are human-caused, and the number-one cause is escaped debris from burning fires. Finding alternatives to burning such as mulching or composting can go a long way to avoiding these fires in the first place.
A burning permit is required to burn vegetative material unless there is at least 3 inches of snow on the ground. The DNR or local governments may also restrict burning if weather conditions warrant.
Current information on statewide fire danger and burning restrictions is available online. Burning permits are available online, from local fire wardens or DNR forestry offices.
Campfires, defined as a fire no larger than 3 feet in diameter and height, and surrounded by a cleared area, may be used without a permit. Be safe with fire. Keep a shovel and water at hand, never leave the fire unattended, and make sure fires are completely out before leaving.
Wildfire Prevention Week April 19-25