It's wildfire season
This month’s topic is simple to figure out. It’s wildfire season!
Fire is a natural part of our environment. Yet, with more people living near wildlands, there is a greater chance of loss of life, property and damage to natural resources. The Division of Forestry provides wildfire protection on nearly 17 million acres of Minnesota’s forest land, also manages the use of prescribed fire and actively prevents wildfires and wildfire-related damage to property. Burning restrictions took effect on March 26 for much of central and northern Minnesota. For more information on these restrictions please check with your local fire department of DNR office. Spring fire restrictions limit open burning until summer-green up occurs.
Traditionally, most wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May. More than 95 percent of these fires are caused by human error. Fire restrictions normally last from 4-6 weeks or until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs. Spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires. The burning restrictions means the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste. Campfires are still allowed. Campers should watch their fire continuously and make sure it is out and cold to touch before leaving the area.
Minnesota has more than 1,200 wildfires annually. Wildfires range from small, innocuous grass fires to large conflagration that have destroyed useful forest timber. Some have destroyed forest timber that could have been utilized. Other wildfires have destroyed property, homes and cabins.
People cause more than 99 percent of the wildfires in Minnesota. These are preventable. Minnesota’s Fire Prevention programs are designed to reduce the number of wildfires by helping people learn how wildfires occur.
With all that said here are some recreational fire tips for the Brainerd lakes area.
Open burning of lumber, pallets, wooden shingles, scrap wood, brush, tree trimmings, leaves, yard waste, cardboard, paper, garbage and other similar items are usually not allowed.
Recreational fires are permitted in residential areas without a fire department permit as long as the following rules are observed.
• Only natural firewood cut in short lengths less than 2-feet may be burned.
• The fire must be contained in a ring or pit not to exceed 3-feet in diameter.
• Fire rings or pits must be located a minimum of 25-feet from structures or combustibles, such as house, garages, sheds, wood piles and wooden fences.
• Manufactured freestanding fire pits must be located a minimum of 25-feet from any structures or combustibles such as houses, garages, sheds wood piles and wood fences.
• The fire must be constantly attended and supervised by an adult until the fire has been completely extinguished.
• A connected garden hose or other means to extinguish the fire must be readily available.
• The use of flammable or combustible liquid accelerants is not permitted.
• Recreational fires are not permitted on windy days when smoke may create a nuisance for nearby neighbors.
• Recreational fires are not permitted on commercial or industrial sites, or sites with construction activities.
• Police and fire department officers are authorized to require that recreational fire be immediately extinguished and disconnected if it is determined that the fire is not in compliance with the above rules, the smoke is offensive to nearby neighbors, or burning is determined to constitute a hazardous condition. Violations of these rules are a misdemeanor offence requiring a court appearance and punishable by fines up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.
To date Brainerd has not responded to any wild land fires. However as the weather gets nicer and the snow melts it won’t take long and we will be responding.
So as I always say, ”Be safe out there.”
For more information on these topics or any other fire related topic please feel free to call the fire department at 828-2312. Remember Brainerd Fire/Rescue is a full-time, paid-on-call fire department. We are here to serve you! Thank You.
KEVIN H. STUNEK is Brainerd fire chief.