As out of place as it is in August, the high fire danger in central and northern Minnesota is as serious as it was in spring and early summer. That’s something everyone who intends to enjoy the outdoors should pay attention to.

As of Thursday, the fire danger in Cass, Crow Wing, Todd and Wadena counties was listed as extreme by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, meaning the fire situation is explosive and can result in extensive property damage. That has resulted in an order for no open burning, including campfires.

Related: Our Opinion: Tough decisions await schools

Fortunately, the Brainerd lakes area has escaped large or damaging fires. The area has, however, had a few grass fires crop up near Pillager and east of Brainerd in the past week, that thankfully were put out by local and state firefighters before they could do real damage.

It’s not even a case of thinking twice before burning. Just don’t burn anything at all — it’s far too dry and has been far too windy to risk it. And be careful handling any equipment or machinery that might spark a fire.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Don’t believe us? Then please listen to the professionals.

“Don’t do any burning right now, and be extremely cautious with any other activity where heat or sparks could start a wildfire,” Allissa Reynolds, DNR acting wildfire prevention supervisor, said in a recent news release announcing more burning restrictions. Reynolds encouraged Minnesotans to do their part to prevent wildfires by knowing and following the burning restrictions in their county.

Related: Our Opinion: Let’s avoid a COVID Groundhog’s Day

It’s not just property or vegetation loss we’re concerned with, but the impact wildfires can have on our community. It taps into the resources of our area firefighters and puts their lives, as well as lives of area residents, at risk. We thank those firefighters that respond to wildfires — or any fire for that matter — and do what is needed to protect all of us.

As this is being written, there is rain in the forecast. If it actually happens, we hope it rains enough to offer a respite from the fire danger. However, it will take more than just a few showers to pull us out of the prolonged drought we are in.

The entire state entered the drought warning phase in mid-July. Conditions have worsened in much of Minnesota, particularly northern Minnesota, over the last month, and for the first time since the drought intensity classification scale was implemented in 2000, a portion of Minnesota has entered the exceptional drought intensity classification.

Related: Our Opinion: A salute to Walt Straka

The current drought is not as severe as the historic droughts of 1988-89 or the 1930s, but it is intensifying, the DNR reported.

Under current conditions, it will take at least 5 to 9 inches of precipitation spread over a period of about one month to significantly alleviate the drought.

That is a lot of rain over a long period of time, and probably wishful thinking.

The bottom line is, now is not the time to be burning anything.