The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adding counties, including Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing, to the list of areas with burning restrictions already in place in northwestern and north central Minnesota.
The new counties, in the central and southeast portions of the state, will be placed under tighter restrictions beginning at 1 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.
The new counties having limitations placed on campfires and open burning include: Aitkin, Anoka, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Dakota, Fillmore, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Isanti, Olmsted, Pine, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Wabasha, Washington, Winona, and Wright.
These counties are in addition to the 22 counties that were put under restrictions on Sept. 23. There are now 43 counties under the Commissioner’s Order, prohibiting open fires other than the types of campfires described below, which can be no more than 3 feet in diameter and height.
Campfires or recreational fires outside municipalities are allowed only in a designated receptacle designed for such use and associated with a residence, staffed campgrounds such as state parks, or resorts. No burning permits will be issued to the general public and use of fireworks will not be allowed outside of municipalities.
The severe drought and windy weather has brought wildfire conditions to the point that fires start easily from sparks or windblown embers and spread extremely fast.
The DNR and other wildfire agencies in the state have brought in additional resources and placed them on a Level 5 alert, the highest planning level. The Minnesota Incident Command System agencies are concerned that prolonged lack of rainfall has allowed even the large woody debris and standing conifer trees to ignite easily as well as areas with peat soils. Both lead to difficult demands on firefighting resources to protect life and property.
According to the DNR, fall weekends bring many people outdoors to recreate, including hunters, campers, and others who want to have campfires.
The DNR urges everyone to use extreme caution where campfires are allowed. Charcoal fires are not limited at this time, but they should not be left unattended.
Recreationists should also pay attention to parking locations in the woods. Hot engines and catalytic converters can ignite fires, particularly in these dry conditions. Check that spark arrestors on recreational vehicles are working properly.