Our Opinion: The fire danger is real during this dry stretch

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued burning restrictions for Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties.


Safety during this recent stretch of hot and dry weather not only applies to those who venture out on local lakes and rivers, but also to those on land.

Fire conditions in the Brainerd lakes area were listed Thursday at very high, meaning fires start easily and spread at a fast rate. Grass in most yards, ditches and fields is brown and dormant — great kindling to spread a fire. Look no further than the numerous recent reports in the Brainerd Dispatch of local fire departments responding to grass fires. Fortunately, none of the grass fires have caused significant damage.

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Brainerd has only received an 18th of an inch of precipitation this month, compared to the normal 1.28 inches. Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties are listed in moderate drought conditions, with Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties faring slightly better in the abnormally dry category.

Barring a significant rain event, the dry conditions look like they will stay a while longer. Our best chance for rain is Sunday, but it has seemed like best chances for rain recently have disappeared before the systems get over the Brainerd lakes area.

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With the official start of summer here and the Fourth of July holiday not too far away, we’d remind area residents and visitors to use extreme caution when grilling, having a campfire, lighting off fireworks or in general using an open flame for any purpose.


On Thursday, June 17, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued burning restrictions for Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties. Burning permits will not be issued for brush or yard waste; no fireworks may be ignited on any public or private land outside city limits (check with your local community for any additional restrictions); and campfires are allowed only in an established fire ring associated with a home, campground, or resort.

Campfires, the DNR reported, should be constructed and maintained with safety in mind. Use a designated fire ring or build a campfire in an area cleared of combustible materials 5 feet in all directions around the fire. Campfires must be 3 feet or less in diameter and not more than 3 feet in height.

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Other important tips from the DNR include:

  • Think before you strike. Check the burning restrictions for your area before lighting a campfire.

  • Select a level spot a safe distance away from trees, low overhead branches, shrubs, dry grass, or logs to prevent the fire from escaping, and clear all combustibles within 5 feet.

  • Have a shovel and water available at the campfire site for extinguishing campfires.

  • Supervise the fire at all times. Even a light breeze could cause the fire to spread.

  • Extinguish the campfire with water using the "drown and stir" method.

Talking about grass fire and wildfire danger in the middle of June is certainly not the norm, but it is the reality. Until we get the rain we need to lower the fire danger, we all need to do our part to keep the actual danger of wildfires at a minimum.
Related: Our Opinion: Cleaning up Brainerd We welcome the city of Brainerd's efforts to renew enforcement of city codes dealing with excess junk and other debris on city properties.

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