Grass fire burns about 3 acres as snowless winter continues
A relatively snowless winter so far and dry conditions continue to make late season grass fires a concern even though a clipper system promises to bring a couple of inches of snow to the lakes area this week.
Brainerd firefighters responded to a grass fire off Hay Creek Road in the South Long Lake area about 10 miles south of Brainerd about 12:37 p.m. Wednesday. The fire burned 2 to 3 acres in a mostly wooded and swamp area off a farm field.
Brainerd Fire Battalion Chief Geoff Williams said a farm worker suffered minor burns to a leg but declined medical attention. The fire was a permitted burn but got out of control, Williams said. A breeze and dry conditions helped the fire move through a swamp. About 16 firefighters responded to the scene and spent about three hours working on the fire. Firefighters from the DNR in Little Falls assisted at the scene.
Firefighters walked across mowed over corn to get to the fire. Williams said the fire was designed to burn the overgrowth on a swamp that is used to irrigate the crops. It’s a reminder, Williams said, of how much caution needs to be involved in any fire under the current conditions.
“We’re expecting to go on a few more of these in late 2011 and early 2012,” Williams said. “We need a real blanket (of snow) to cover the ground. It’s very dry.”
Pete Boulay, DNR climatologist, said the state has had fires before in the middle of December but the last four winters have produced snowfalls so that has not been the case in most recent memory. This warm, dry winter to date followed on the heels of a dry autumn. Boulay said parts of the state are already listed in severe drought. Central Minnesota is considered abnormally dry.
A clipper system was supposed to bring 1 to 2 inches of snow to central Minnesota on Wednesday night, with a second round of snow possible Thursday night. The chance of snow was listed at 70 percent with a smaller chance of 20 percent on Thursday. Greater amounts of snow were expected along the North Shore and along U.S. Highway 2, the National Weather Service reported in a hazardous weather outlook.
After days of sunshine and above normal temperatures, the forecast finally has at least of chance of snow — in the 20 to 30 percent range — listed through Saturday. Although the forecast means the little snow that does fall may not last. Warm temperatures are expected to continue with a high Saturday near 38 degrees. New Year’s Day is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high near 26. Monday may bring a cold snap of 18 degrees but warm temperatures are over yet as next week brings an abundance of sunshine and the middle of next week is expected to bring a high near 29 degrees.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.