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Wildfire season is here, burning restrictions in place

For the health and safety of all Minnesotans, the DNR is proactively moving to burning restrictions immediately after snowmelt to reduce potential for wildfire and emergency response, it stated on the DNR’s website.

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Chad Allord, Mission Township assistant fire chief, sprays down hot spots from a fire in a wooded area Thursday, April 16, on County Road 19 near Merrifield. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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Snow is almost completely gone, temperatures are rising and the winds are picking up in the month of April — which in Minnesota means it’s wildfire season.

The Brainerd lakes area along with a large portion of the state was in moderate fire danger Thursday, April 16, which means fires may start from most accidental causes, and open-cured grassland may burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported.

That was the case in Crow Wing County, where there were two back-to-back 911 calls on wildfires. Each fire burned about an acre of land. The first call was reported about 2:30 p.m. on the 8200 block of Doe Trail, west of Hartley Lake, north of Brainerd. The Brainerd Fire Department assisted the DNR. The second grass fire was reported about 3:15 p.m. on the 24000 block of Crow Wing County Highway 19, south of Lower Mission Lake near Merrifield. The Mission Fire and Rescue assisted the DNR with this fire.

Mission Fire Chief Eric Makowski Budrow said the fire near Merrifield started when a homeowner was burning leaves.

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Fire burned about an acre of land Thursday, April 16, on Doe Trail, west of Hartley Lake, north of Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“With the weather starting to get warm, and our area not having much precipitation, people have to be very careful when conducting yard work,” Makowski Budrow said. “The DNR currently has burning restrictions in place and with the COVID-19 issues, they are being very strict on what permits are being authorized. If anyone has any questions they can contact their local fire departments or the DNR with questions.”

For the health and safety of all Minnesotans, the DNR is proactively moving to burning restrictions immediately after snowmelt to reduce potential for wildfire and emergency response, the DNR’s website stated. The DNR is working to reduce additional risks and stressors on the emergency response network to assure maximum availability for COVID-19 response.

Until further notice, Minnesota’s township fire wardens will no longer be issuing burning permits. The DNR will grant variance permits only for agricultural field and construction site preparation, and limited prescribed burning. The DNR also is enforcing burning restrictions with variance permits for several counties in the state including Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena.

“The snowpack this year held on a little longer, and that helped to keep fire activity slow into the first part of April,” stated Leanne Langeberg, public information officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, in an email. “With the snowpack receding, we are starting to see fire activity pick up. Fire crews have been able to respond quickly to recent fires.

“We are heading into a warmer and dryer pattern over the next week. With the snow melting, exposed dead grass and brush can light easily, and fire can spread quickly. The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center reminds all Brainerd area residents to be very careful and vigilant with any open burning this spring, including campfires.”

Langeberg said fire experts highly recommended people to check current fire conditions and burning restrictions at https://bit.ly/3bhV4jr .

Fire danger may continue, as the weather forecast shows warmer temperatures with a high near 49 Friday and 56 Saturday in Brainerd, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth. A light southwest wind becoming west at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph is expected to continue through Friday and Saturday.

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JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.

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Fire burned about an acre of land Thursday, April 16, on Doe Trail, west of Hartley Lake, north of Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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